Chaves back at Sebring as Pigot, Rossi set for first 2016 tests

Hinchcliffe and Chaves. Photo: IndyCar

Among the driver story lines headed into this week’s two days of private testing at Sebring International Raceway, which serves as an unofficial road course spring training for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series, are the debuts of Spencer Pigot and Alexander Rossi and the return of Gabby Chaves.

Pigot will make his test debut with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, for the first time since being confirmed for at least a three-race program.

He’ll drive the team’s No. 16 Honda; the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion steps up after securing the Mazda Scholarship. Pigot has tested an IndyCar before, with Team Penske during the Indy Lights drivers test day at Sonoma last August.

Meanwhile, Rossi will have his first day ever in an IndyCar in the No. 98 Honda for Andretti Autosport, just over a week after being confirmed in the car previously fielded by Bryan Herta Autosport but still featuring the BHA crew and Herta as his strategist.

Andretti Autosport has already “welcomed” Rossi back to America – who’s been in Europe for the last eight years – with this quick video.

Lastly, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports confirmed Chaves will test for a second straight test, filling in for Mikhail Aleshin.

If Chaves and James Hinchcliffe get to continue as teammates into the regular season when it starts itself, they can look back at this rather hilarious selfie posted to the team’s PR rep’s phone as a starting point.

Beyond these three, teams and drivers expected to test tomorrow, on March 2, include:

  • A.J. Foyt Enterprises (Jack Hawksworth, Takuma Sato)
  • Andretti Autosport (Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Munoz, Alexander Rossi)
  • Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (Max Chilton, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball)
  • Dale Coyne Racing (Conor Daly, Luca Filippi)
  • Ed Carpenter Racing (Josef Newgarden)
  • KVSH Racing (Sebastien Bourdais)
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Spencer Pigot, Graham Rahal)
  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (James Hinchcliffe, Gabby Chaves)

You’ll note Team Penske isn’t on that list, but it is still testing at Sebring this week. Per a Team Penske spokesperson, the team moved its testing up to today for the quartet of Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud.

This week’s testing is the last for IndyCar before the season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, on March 13.

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


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.