Derani, Menezes, Kubica among headline runners in Bahrain WEC rookie test

© FIA WEC/Adrenal Media

Pipo Derani, Gustavo Menezes and Robert Kubica were among the headline runners in Sunday’s FIA World Endurance Championship rookie test, sampling LMP1 machinery around the Bahrain International Circuit.

The WEC rookie test is designed to give up-and-coming sportscar racers a chance to showcase their talents, with the series promoter selecting three drivers for LMP1 tests.

2016 WEC LMP2 champion Menezes got behind the wheel of the Porsche 919 Hybrid in Bahrain, while Derani tested for Toyota following a mighty year that featured victories at Daytona and Sebring.

“It was a great opportunity to test with Toyota Gazoo Racing. I am a lucky guy to get this chance because not many drivers are able to test an LMP1 car nowadays,” Derani said.

“It was great for me to see how an LMP1 team goes about its work and to understand how the hybrid system works.

“At the end of the day, an LMP1 car is not massively different to the LMP2 cars that I am used to; the big difference is the amazing hybrid boost coming out of the corners.

“It was a nice experience to push the throttle coming out of turn one! You certainly feel the 1,000hp.”

Antonio Giovinazzi had been slated to test for Audi, only to pull out of the test in order to prepare for the GP2 finale in Abu Dhabi next weekend, giving Paul-Loup Chatin the chance to step up.

A front drivetrain issue on the Audi R18 prevented the manufacturer from completing running in the afternoon, leaving Chatin with the honor of being the final person to drive the car.

Another man testing out an LMP1 car was ex-Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica, who completed running for ByKolles in Bahrain ahead of a planned return to circuit racing in 2017.

Neel Jani posted the fastest time of the day for Porsche ahead of Brendon Hartley, with both carrying out tire testing for Michelin.

Of the rookies, Menezes set the fastest time, finishing 1.4 seconds off Jani. Chatin finished a further three-tenths of a second behind, with Derani another 0.4 seconds behind that.

Kubica’s lap was the quickest of the trio testing for ByKolles, one of whom was recent IndyCar racer Francesco Dracone, who finished five seconds off the Pole’s pace.

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.