Chevy, Honda to build IndyCar aero kits for 2015

3 Comments

The INDYCAR sanctioning body has announced that IndyCar Series engine suppliers Chevrolet and Honda will expand into producing their own aero kits for the Dallara DW12 chassis beginning in the 2015 season.

As part of plans announced back in June to increase the sport’s innovations, aero kits are set to be introduced in that season for all events and will feature separate specifications for superspeedways and road courses/street courses/short ovals.

Chevy program manager Chris Berube noted the “unique situation” of being able to provide both powerplants and aero kits.

“This will allow Chevrolet to impact a wider bandwidth of car performance which comes with increased responsibility to our teams to put them in a position to win,” he said in a statement. “We are confident that our collective team of technical partners are capable, enabled and focused to succeed.”

As for HPD technical director Roger Griffiths, he said that the aero kits would add “another area for innovation and manufacturer competition.”

“The introduction of bespoke bodywork from Honda and Chevrolet will provide fans with additional brand identification and that can only help IndyCar racing,” he said.

According to the INDYCAR sanctioning body, open development areas for the kits include the sidepods, engine cover, and oval front wing main and end plates. Alterations to the DW12’s undertray to provide more safety are currently being considered. On-track testing is slated to begin on Oct. 6, 2014 and run through Jan. 18, 2015.

Additional bits of the regulations include the following:

    • No entrant may use more than two aero kits during a season. The 2012 Dallara aero kit is approved as one of the aero kits.
    • Dallara will continue to supply a number of standard components that affect aerodynamic performance.
    • For the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, an entrant may use more than one aero kit during practice sessions. The aero kits utilized in qualifications must be used in the race.
    • Entrants will be charged no more than $75,000 per aero kit by the supplier, inclusive of all components, but excluding fasteners. A 2016 upgrade kit will cost no more than $15,000.
    • Six days of pre-production testing have been approved, with each supplier using a maximum of two cars from entrants. Engine mileage accrued will not count against the entrants’ 10,000-mile-per-year allocation or engine count.

Aero kits have been delayed multiple times in recent years for the IndyCar Series by team owners. In 2011, the owners asked for Delay No. 1 due to the DW12’s initial costs going over their respective budgets.

But in 2012, with cost containment still on their minds and a strong racing product having emerged without kits, the owners chose to delay them again – much to the chagrin of fans that have clamored for more distinctive looks on the DW12.

IMSA: Sebring Day 2 of two-day test notebook

Photo courtesy of IMSA
Leave a comment

Testing across several IMSA sanctioned series continued at Sebring International Raceway on Tuesday as preparations continue for next month’s events during the weekend of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.

Below are highlights from Day 2 of testing around the 3.74-mile road course.

Eurosport Racing Continues Work with Mazda Prototype Challenge Chassis

Teams in the Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda championship completed their second day of testing on Tuesday. Among them, Eurosport Racing continued their work with the only Mazda Prototype Challenge (MPC) entries in the field, in the hands of drivers Dr. Tim George (in the No. 24 entry) and Jon Brownson (in the No. 34).

“Right now, I’m driving by myself so we’re trying to make the car comfortable enough to last an hour and 45 minutes with just me in the car,” George said of their preparation efforts. “We’re trying to set up the car where it’s quick, yet it and can last, both the car and for me to make sure we don’t tire out, get fatigued and make mistakes.”

The 1 hour 45 minute window that George referenced represents the race times for the 2018 season, up considerably from last year’s sprint format that featured a pair of 45-minute races across a race weekend.

Though that change represents a drastic shift in driving philosophy, it is one that George welcomes.

“The new rules for the endurance races are great, I enjoy it a lot,” said George. “It gives you a chance to think through things differently with strategy. It also gives you a chance if you blow it…in a sprint race if you make a mistake you don’t get a chance to come back.”

Florida Drivers in Continental Tire Challenge Eager for Hometown Race at Sebring

A strong contingent of drivers from Florida are represented in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and next month’s 12 Hours of Sebring weekend will see them compete on home soil.

“I grew up in Tallahassee and I live in Orlando now, so Sebring has been my home track since day one,” said Paul Holton, driver of the No. 76 Compass Racing McLaren GT4, which finished 14th at the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. “I’ve spent a lot of time down here and really enjoy the place. It’s a nice, quaint little town not far from Orlando so it’s a quick, easy drive down for me.”

Fellow Floridian Ramin Abdolvahabi, a native of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and driver of the No. 09 Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage, revealed that, even though Sebring is only two hours from his hometown, this week’s test was his first time at the track in two years.

“I haven’t been here for two years, so coming back is like coming home,” he said. “It’s a fantastic track and it’s one of the iconic tracks in the world so being at Sebring – a small town, my hometown, welcoming – it’s fantastic. I went on the track a couple of times yesterday and it’s just like wearing an old shoe, it just fits and it’s fantastic. Hopefully, the race will go well and the weather will hold, so anyone who’s out there, come and see us!”

Frank Raso Trades in Airplanes for Porsches at Sebring

Several IMSA drivers boast “day jobs” outside of their racing gigs. Among them, Frank Raso’s work falls outside of ordinary jobs like doctor or lawyer. Rather, Raso flies airplanes for a living.

“I’m an airline pilot for a major airline,” said Raso, who tested the No. 10 Topp Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car at Sebring. “I’ve been flying for almost 30 years, and it’s allowed me, with all my time off and things like that to do this and fall back into racing again. I messed with it a little bit when I was younger, but it was, of course, expensive, so I got away from it for a while. I decided I wanted to get back into it in kind of my last couple of years before I get too old.”

Raso explained that the skills he practices while flying planes are more than transferable to his driving duties in a Porsche GT3 Cup car.

“Flying an airliner or flying any airplane, we have checklists, but everything is kind of done in order. It’s almost in a robot fashion type of a thing where you do this, you do this, you do this and you have to make sure you hit all your marks and fly the airplane with precision.

“So, when you get in these Cup cars, with no anti-lock brakes, no traction control, and no driver assist items, you have to make sure you hit your marks, when you’re accelerating, when you’re turning in. You have to be alert. It keeps your wits about you. The car can step out at any time. They’re a very difficult car to drive, but they’re a lot of fun.”
The 54-year-old Raso posted a best finish of fourth, on four separate occasions, in a part-time schedule during the 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season as a competitor in the Gold Cup class.
Newcomers Get Taste of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge
A number of new drivers got to sample Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge cars during the two days of testing at Sebring. Among them was amateur racer Scott Welham, who got his first taste of professional racing during the two-day outing at Sebring.
And he had a strong support system backing him up in the Kelly-Moss Road and Race team, the defending Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge champions with driver Jake Eidson.
“Here, you’ve got somebody that actually does coaching, data acquisition, track management – these are all separate people – plant manager, owner, a car-setup guy, you’ve got someone that bills you – which isn’t always a good thing, but you know, you just have that huge, huge support group that enables you to focus on driving,” Welham said of the team’s influence on his development over the two days.
IMSA’s next visit to Sebring will be for the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17.