IndyCar adopts new electronic marshal system with digital flag panels


The NTT IndyCar Series will introduce a new electronic marshal system for administering races, including digital flag panels, for its road course and oval races.

Starting with Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, light panels throughout the track will display flag codes and information from local marshals and race control. The technology, which is designed to increase safety for marshals and improve the visibility of flags to drivers, is supplied by EM Motorsport. The company also handles similar safety devices for Formula One, MotoGP and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“The NTT IndyCar Series’ expanding relationship with EM Motorsport is going to greatly enhance the tools we have available in race control,” IndyCar race director Kyle Novak said in a release. “Anytime a flag is displayed, we’ll receive an automated visualisation of the course condition. It will also give us the ability to automate notifications such as Full Course Yellows or red flags.

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“In recent years, IndyCar has emphasized green-flag racing as much as possible by having incidents cleared under local yellows, when safe to do so. This system will considerably enhance this process. After so many steps forward made in the safety of the cars over the last decade, this is an important move as North America’s premier open-wheel series continues to make investments in race control technology.”

EM Motorsport and IndyCar have been testing the system over the first four races of the season.

The nearly 2-foot panels will offer displays with 22 times the brightness of an iPhone screen and a viewing angle of 70 degrees to aid drivers with information. Marshals can reduce reaction time by using handheld remote controls to signify incidents, notifying drivers and response teams.

The flag lights also are displayed on driver steering wheels and the rain light on the rear attenuator.

IndyCar also worked with EM Motorsports on an accident data recorder and ear plug accelerometers last year to provide better crash analysis.

“We’re extremely happy to be increasing our support to the NTT IndyCar Series in 2022 with the introduction of our T3 Flag Panels and Electronic Marshalling System, following the successful integration of our Accident Data Recorder and Ear Plug Accelerometers last year,” EM Motorsport deputy manager Luca De Angelis said in a release. “Working with America’s premier single-seater series not only helps them improve safety for their drivers and marshals, but will enable us to accelerate our rate of development for the latest safety innovations.”

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images

Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.