The new Dallara IL-15 Indy Lights chassis is officially revealed at IMS

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On Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the new Dallara IL-15 chassis for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series was revealed.

If you’re a fan or ardent follower of the Indy Lights series, it might be hard for you to believe this day is really here, too. But it is.

The new IL-15 chassis replaces the Dallara that has been on the Indy Lights grid since the series’ relaunch in 2002; next season, 2015, marks 30 seasons since the first year of Indy Lights in 1986.

Delayed several times as the Indy Lights series went through a change in operation – while it still falls under the INDYCAR umbrella, the operations are now done by Andersen Promotions (was announced last July in Toronto), Dallara was picked as the new chassis partner, a rendering was unveiled in November, AER was confirmed as engine supplier, and today, the future has officially arrived.

Several key partners – Andersen Promotions’ Dan Andersen, project leader Tony Cotman and Dallara CEO Andrea Pontremoli – among others were all on hand for Thursday’s reveal.

Here’s the technical details:

DALLARA IL-15 CHASSIS
Top Speed: 200 mph
Design: Carbon chassis and bodywork
Weight: 1400 pounds
Length: 192 inches
Width: 76 inches
Transmission: 6-speed semi-automatic

AER-P63 ENGINE
Engine: 2.0 liter, turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower: 450 HP plus 50 HP Push-to-Pass
Design: All aluminum
Weight: 230 pounds dry crated
Features: Carbon plenum, carbon inlet runner and trumpets and “drive-by-wire” throttle control
Electronics: AER with full active-knock control, ignition-angle learning, advanced boost control and
integrated gear-shift strategies

TIRES Slick/rain tires co-branded COOPER/INDYLIGHTS as manufactured by Cooper Tires

WHEELS Patented Motegi aluminum wheels with techno-mesh design

ADDITIONAL COMPONENTS
• Cosworth looms, data logger, dash, display and sensors
• Dynamic dampers
• Life Racing paddle-shift kit
• Tilton carbon clutch
• PFC brakes

Note: 2014 carryover items include gearbox internals (including ratios), dampers and springs

Another bit of news that came out of the announcement was that the 2015 Indy Lights champion will be confirmed for three 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series races, including the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly will handle the majority of the testing, which officially begins August 5 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, just after the Verizon IndyCar Series race there on August 3. A shakedown in Italy will occur July 15.

Here’s three more studio shot pictures of the car, released by Andersen Promotions/Indy Lights.

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Photo: Indy Lights
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Photo: Indy Lights
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Photo: Indy Lights

I spoke with Andersen, Cotman, AER’s Rob Dyson, Vautier, and Pro Mazda points leader Spencer Pigot after the announcement. Full analysis on the new car will follow later this week on MotorSportsTalk.

F1/IndyCar clashes frequent for 2018 as schedules shape up

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The latest meeting of the World Motor Sport Council may not have yielded much in the way of groundbreaking news, but the confirmation of Formula E and the World Endurance Championship’s 2018 schedules did help us get a grip on next year’s racing calendar.

Perhaps the most notable thing with next year’s schedules is the heavy reduction in clashes between the FIA’s three premier track championships – F1, Formula E and WEC – next year, making good on its plans for calendar harmonization moving forward.

WEC confirmed its ‘super season’ schedule earlier this month, stretching 13 months from May 2018 to June 2019, and added Silverstone last week, with the calendar gaining FIA approval in Paris.

Of the 2018 WEC rounds, there is just one clash with another FIA track championship: between the 6 Hours of Fuji and the F1 United States Grand Prix on the October 21 weekend.

While the more pressing worry for drivers is between WEC and Formula E after the July 16 debacle this year, no WEC and F1 clashes is good news for Fernando Alonso, who could well appear at Le Mans next year as part of his Triple Crown bid.

Formula E does have a number of F1 clashes, albeit not until the sixth event of its season, with the Rome race being held on the April 15 weekend where the Bahrain Grand Prix also sits (for now – China is due to swap dates).

Other Formula E and F1 clashes come on April 29 (Paris/Azerbaijan), June 10 (Zurich/Canada) and July 29 (Montreal/Hungary), although by shifting the New York City ePrix back one week to July 14-15, a gap has been found in the schedule.

For those operating across all three series (including yours truly), there is now a busy run between the start of the F1 season in Australia and the start of the summer break in Hungary with just three empty weekends.

As for IndyCar clashes? The condensed nature of the series’ schedule and the expansion of F1’s calendar to 21 races means they are inevitable. That said, as IndyCar is outside of the FIA’s realm of control, it was never really in the mix for its harmonization plans.

Yet again there is a clash between the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix, sadly something we have become accustomed to in recent years, but over half the IndyCar calendar faces an F1 clash next year.

Here’s a full run-down of the F1/IndyCar double dip weekends:

April 7-8: Chinese GP, Phoenix Grand Prix
April 14-15: Bahrain GP, Grand Prix of Long Beach
May 12-13: Spanish GP, Indianapolis GP
May 26-27: Monaco GP, Indianapolis 500
June 9-10: Canadian GP, Texas 600
June 23-24: French GP, Road America GP
July 7-8: British GP, Iowa Corn 300
August 25-26: Belgian GP, Gateway 500
September 15-16: Singapore GP, Sonoma GP

Bahrain, China ‘on-track’ to swap F1 race dates for 2018

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Next year’s Formula 1 races in China and Bahrain are “on-track” to swap dates in order to maximize their local exposure, according to the sport’s commercial chief, Sean Bratches.

The provisional F1 schedule for 2018 lists the Chinese Grand Prix as the second round of the season, taking place on April 8, with the Bahrain Grand Prix taking place one week later on April 15.

However, plans are afoot to swap the races around due to the Qingming national holiday that is set to take place in China on the April 8 weekend, potentially having a negative impact on crowd numbers at the Shanghai International Circuit.

“We’re trying to take into account global events, local events, religious holidays and things to ensure we’re maximizing the opportunity for fans to attend the grands prix,” Bratches told Reuters.

“We’re talking to both of them to that end and if we can reach a mutually agreed upon solution, which appears to be on-track to happen, you’ll probably see that,” he said.

No updates were made to the F1 schedule for 2018 at the latest meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris this week, meaning no switch between Bahrain and China will be ratified until the start of December at the earliest.

NASCAR America: Scott Speed’s quest for Red Bull GRC three-peat

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Red Bull Global Rallycross points leader Scott Speed is going for his third consecutive championship next month (Saturday, October 14, 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC from Los Angeles) for the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team.

Prior to that, he joined Thursday’s edition of NBCSN’s NASCAR America, checking in with his former Red Bull Racing teammate Brian Vickers, show host Carolyn Manno and analyst Steve Letarte.

Speed talked teammate dynamics – he and Tanner Foust have been the class of the Red Bull GRC field for several years – and what it takes to succeed in the diverse championship that features racing on both pavement and dirt.

“Tanner comes from more of a more rally background and I come from more of an open-wheel, road course background,” Speed explained. “You have to meet in the middle and often times that creates success. Our personalties are polar opposites and that’s a good thing.”

One other thing Speed addressed was Austin Cindric’s couple notable incidents in the last month or so. Going for his maiden NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win, Cindric hit Kaz Grala at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to move for the lead and ultimately the win.

Cindric then made his GRC Supercars debut at the most recent weekend in Seattle and the two collided after a miscommunication in a preliminary race, prior to the Joker section of the course.

“He’s a young kid with not a lot of experience. He’s made a couple big mistakes. He came in like a wrecking ball,” Speed laughed.

“I was more mad because the car couldn’t restart at first. But it did, and we got going.”

Public clashes over future of Detroit Grand Prix

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DETROIT (AP) State officials are deciding whether to continue hosting the Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle, a state park and island that opponents say is negatively impacted by the annual event.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is considering whether to allow the race to continue after its current five-year contract expires after the 2018 race.

The department held a public meeting Wednesday at the Belle Isle Nature Center to gather feedback. Dozens of residents attended.

Opponents voiced concerns about the race’s environmental impact. Several conservation groups have requested a third-party environmental impact study on how the race affects island habitat.

But supporters say the race shines a spotlight on Detroit and stimulates the economy.

The Grand Prix has occurred on Belle Isle periodically since 1992 and annually since 2012.