BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Jose Maria Lopez is set to miss July’s Formula E double header in New York after prioritizing his new role with Toyota in the FIA World Endurance Championship over other commitments.
Lopez won three straight WTCC titles between 2014 and 2016 with Citroen before moving into Formula E with the French manufacturer’s sub-brand DS and the Virgin Racing team.
Toyota confirmed at the beginning of February that Lopez would be joining its full-season WEC line-up for 2017, replacing Stephane Sarrazin in the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid for 2017.
Lopez spoke warmly of the opportunity with Toyota, saying that he wants to learn as much as possible during his maiden WEC season, and confirmed that it will be put before all other duties in 2017.
As a result, Lopez is poised to miss the two Formula E races in New York on July 16 while he is at the Nürburgring for the WEC six hour race.
“The only race we’re going to have some problems where there is going to be a clash for the moment if they don’t find a solution is New York and Nürburgring,” Lopez told NBC Sports.
“My priority is Toyota LMP1 this year. I’m going to be racing for sure in the Nürburgring if there is a clash.
“It’s been a dream for me to become an LMP1 driver and race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans especially and the WEC. I’m really looking forward to the first race and first testing.
“My idea is to learn as much as I can and get on a good level with my teammates and get a good season.”
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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