Former Formula 1 driver Giedo van der Garde will move into endurance racing in 2016 after joining Jota Sport for the European Le Mans Series season.
Van der Garde made his F1 debut with Caterham in 2013 and spent the following year as a reserve driver at Sauber before an acrimonious split with the team that resulted in a court hearing ahead of last year’s Australian Grand Prix.
The Dutch racer tested a DTM car with Mercedes at the end of last year, but has opted to move into endurance racing for 2016 with Jota Sport’s LMP2 team.
Van der Garde will race alongside British youngster Harry Tincknell and Jota team owner Simon Dolan in ELMS, and will also race at two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship including the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
“In F1 I was competing in the highest level of motorsport, but with Caterham there wasn’t a real possibility to win races,” van der Garde said. “Now with JOTA there is, and again at a high level of racing. That’s what I’m aiming for: winning.
“To win the 24 hours of Le Mans isn’t even a dream; it’s my goal. Therefore I am very pleased to sign with such an established and proven team as JOTA Sport. This is a new chapter for me going in to endurance racing and I am sure it will be an enjoyable one.
“I have always enjoyed the teamwork side of racing, particularly from an engineering perspective, so I think this will be an asset to start with. Endurance racing has so much momentum at the present time and after some time away from the cockpit last season I could appreciate the levels to which it has grown.
“To make my debut with JOTA Sport this season is a very good start to the year. I’ll do my utmost to be successful for JOTA during ELMS, but also in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the biggest events in racing. It is a huge challenge, but a dream come true. I can’t wait to go flat out.”
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.
Read more about SuperMotocross