Romain Grosjean will celebrate his 28th birthday in five days’ time ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, and he is hoping that he can do so in style by securing Lotus’ first points finish of the 2014 season.
A difficult winter marred by financial problems left Lotus on the back foot, and the E22 car was behind schedule thus causing the team to miss the first test in Jerez. At the first round of the season in Australia, completing just over 40 laps was seen as an achievement, but now the team is on the cusp of breaking into the points, and Grosjean hopes that he can do so next weekend.
“Shanghai is not my favourite race of the year, but I will be spending my 28th birthday there so let’s make it good!” he said in Lotus’ GP preview. “It’s quite a particular circuit where it is not always easy to find the right setup and the temperature can also be cold. You never know what to expect, except that there will be a monster traffic jam to get to the circuit!
“I scored my first Formula 1 points at Shanghai in 2012 and scored points again last year when Kimi finished second for the team. So let’s hope that’s a good omen and we can add to the good memories next weekend.”
The Frenchman enjoyed a good race in Malaysia three weeks ago where he finished in 11th place and very nearly picked up a point, but in Bahrain the team once again hit trouble as he finished 12th following a late safety car period.
Although it is a far cry from the regular podium finishes of 2013, reaching the top 10 will be an important achievement for all at Lotus after such a difficult period in the history of the Enstone team.
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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