Hunter-Reay, Rahal give high marks for new Honda in testing

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It’s early days yet, but Honda’s new twin-turbo IndyCar Series engine seems to have won over a mainstay from the manufacturer’s new flagship team.

“I’m very impressed with the power and delivery,” said Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay (pictured), who was among several Honda drivers to test the new motor today at Sebring International Raceway.

“We’re all happy with how we started testing. The development side of it is a lot of fun. You have an opportunity to customize and personalize and have your impact on a program.

“What we do right now is important. To get every bit of data out of every day is crucial to the 2014 championship. All the hard work going into it will make a big difference come the season opener at St. Pete. It’s great to get back to it.”

Also testing Honda’s new twin-turbo today at Sebring were Graham Rahal and Simon Pagenaud. This past summer, the sanctioning body announced that all engines starting next season would be required to be twin-turbo; Honda had been running a single-turbo powerplant.

In addition to today marking his first run with the Honda twin-turbo, Rahal also got to work with new race engineer Bill Pappas for the first time.

“It was really great to be out here with Bill, [engi­neer] Eddie [Jones], and all of the guys to go through a list of things to test,” Rahal said in a team statement.

“…For the first time running on a road course, the twin-turbo ran awfully well. We made a lot of changes, made a lot of improvements that will help us going forward and we have some ideas for things that will help us even more.

“At the end of the day, that’s all we can ask for.”

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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