Pato O’Ward, who came on stronger as the end of the 2015 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires season rolled on, will have at least two weekends to build on that in 2016.
The Monterrey, Mexico native, who turns 17 in May, will continue with Team Pelfrey for the St. Petersburg and Barber Motorsports Park rounds, giving a bit of continuity to the team alongside Weiron Tan, who moves over from Andretti Autosport and Aaron Telitz, who moves up from the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series.
“I am thrilled and massively thankful for the opportunity Team Pelfrey has given me,” said O’Ward. “I will start the season at St. Pete and Barber and hopefully, complete the whole year with them if everything goes to plan. Testing has gone great and as always a pleasure to be working with such a great, hard-working group of guys. I am super motivated for the up and coming races and I am determined to give it my all and maintain the team on the highest step of the podium.”
O’Ward was also confirmed Tuesday for selected races with Performance Tech Motorsports in the IMSA Mazda Prototype Lites series.
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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