Mercedes director Toto Wolff has spoken of his delight with Robert Kubica’s recent simulator work, believing that it benefits both the driver and the team.
Kubica raced in Formula One until the end of 2010, but a rally accident during the off-season saw him suffer injuries which appeared to end his chances of returning to the sport. However, he made a return to competitive racing last year, taking part in some rally events, and he has recently began using the Mercedes simulator at their Brackley base. Wolff made clear that Kubica’s focus was still rallying, although the simulator work was proving to be highly fruitful.
Speaking to Autosport, Wolff said: “Robert is concentrating on rallying, that is his main task, but everybody knows he is very talented and experienced.
“What we are trying to do with him is give him time in the simulator and you both gain by having him in the simulator.”
Despite making this progress, Wolff did not jump to any conclusions about a potential single-seater comeback for Kubica.
“He is getting used to driving the F1 car again and we are benefiting from his expertise. It helps the team and it helps him.”
Many fans would love to see one-time grand prix winner Kubica make a return to the sport, and although these are encouraging signs, he still has a long way to come if he is to get back into a single seater racer in the near future.
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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