Sunday, August 14, 2011

Alternative aero kits delayed until 2013



(by Dave Lewandowski indycar.com 8-14-11)

All IZOD IndyCar Series teams will utilize the oval and road/street course bodywork that is part of the Dallara Automobili chassis package with the next generation car for the 2012 season.

INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard told team owners of the decision to delay alternative aero kits during a meeting at New Hampshire Motor Speedway primarily because of cost concerns cost they expressed in May.

The rolling chassis -- dubbed the IndyCar Safety Cell -- remains on target to debut in competition at the start of the 2012 season. The sidepods and engine cover will be universal for the diverse set of racetracks, while Dallara-designed and -produced front and rear wings will be different for the ovals and road/street circuits. The 2012 schedule is expected to be announced by mid-September.

“The most important thing we can do as a series is look at what is in the best interest of both our long and short term,” Bernard said. "It is important that we maintain a high car count next year by ensuring we have cost containment for our teams. We must listen to our team owners and try to help. We don't want to see our car counts go from 26 and 27 down to 16 because of the aero kits. The manufacturers have told us it's very expensive and the team owners have told us it's very expensive.

"No one is more disappointed that I that we're not going to do it, but I feel this is by far the best decision for our series. The 2012 season will be exciting with the debut of our new car as we focus on relevancy and technology through engine competition, turbochargers and direct injection. From simulations we've seen on road and street courses that lap times are 3 seconds quicker and up to 15 mph faster."

INDYCAR announced plans for the car, which comes complete save for tires, the steering wheel and driver seat, in July 2010 after it reviewed multiple manufacturer concepts. It will replace the chassis that came on line in 2003 and was built solely for oval racing (the first INDYCAR road/street course race was in 2005 at St. Petersburg, Fla.).

There are cost reductions associated with the new car -- the $385,000 for the complete chassis package is about 40 percent less and the maximum engine lease agreement of $690,000 is about 30 percent less -- though the Firestone tire bill will increase $250,000, according to Bernard.

"We've got new engines and a new car next year so we can have another new story for 2013," Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti said.

New car project manager Tony Cotman said alternative aero kits will be introduced for the start of the 2013 season. All three engine manufacturers -- Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus -- have expressed interest in designing and supplying their own aero kits.

"By the time they get the new regulations and what is needed on the new car, they'll basically have a year to build and provide what's needed," Cotman said.

Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon was behind the wheel of the initial test of the prototype Aug. 8-9 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

“We are extremely pleased with the results of our first test of the new chassis,” INDYCAR vice president of technology Will Phillips said. “Everything performed as we expected in this initial shakedown. All systems were sorted and checked, and we look forward to our next test.”

Fifteen other chassis test sessions, including four in the next 10 days, are scheduled through September. Engine manufacturers Honda, Chevrolet and Toyota -- each of whom has a chassis ordered -- are scheduled to begin testing their 2.2-liter turbocharged V-6 engines in early October. Teams are scheduled to receive their first chassis in mid-December.

Dallara's technology and manufacturing facility is under construction on Main Street in Speedway, Ind., where production of the new car is expected to commence early next year. Bernard noted that American manufacturers will be associated with the next-generation car.

"Quality and price are the primary objectives of everything we put on this car," he said.




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