Daniel Ricciardo has revealed that his retirement from last Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix was due to damage caused on the installation lap before the race.
Torrential rain hit the Sepang International Circuit just before the start of the race, and Ricciardo was one of many drivers who had an off whilst making their way to the grid.
“Out of the box I wanted to push hard because I knew we’d be starting on the inter tires and I wanted to get a good feel for it in the conditions,” Ricciardo explained. “I came into the corner, started to aquaplane and had that ‘aw crikey’ moment as I slid toward the gravel.
“I had a look and the floor was pretty badly damaged. The mechanics did what they could to fix it on the grid but there was only so much they could do in the short amount of time available.”
The damage didn’t seem to hinder Ricciardo too greatly off the start, and he challenged in the points for the majority of the race.
“The start itself was fine. I managed to gain a couple of positions on the first lap and I think I got in front of both Lotuses. They are quicker than us but I managed to keep them behind.
“But we were getting killed in the high-speed corners with a lot of understeer because of the damage.”
Eventually, Ricciardo retired from the race, and the Australian driver was angry to have suffered the damage in such circumstances.
“That’s how it goes sometimes but I was pretty angry nonetheless.”
Toro Rosso have shown good pace so far this season, with Jean-Eric Vergne scoring the team’s first point in Malaysia, and Ricciardo will be keen to see an upturn in fortunes so he can score his first points of the season at the next race in China.
In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.
Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.
Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.
The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.
“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”
Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.
SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.
When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.
SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.
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