INDYCAR announces its testing regulations, locations for 2016

AP
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The Verizon IndyCar Series regulations and locations for testing ahead of the 2016 season have been released on Monday morning.

A two-day promoter test day, February 26-27, at Phoenix International Raceway, has been scheduled while on the whole, teams will have eight team or full-size wind tunnel test days.

That PIR date may well serve as the “Spring Training” location prior to the March 11-13 weekend at St. Petersburg; in recent years, it’s been at Barber in mid-March before the later St. Pete date and the opener.

Additional test days will be available for teams who either have an Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires program, or, as was the case at Sonoma this year, if teams split a day’s running with an Indy Lights driver alongside their IndyCar driver.

Here’s the full release and details:

Testing regulations for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season, announced by INDYCAR, include a two-day promoter test at Phoenix International Raceway in preparation for the series’ return to the historic 1-mile oval.

The Phoenix promoter test is scheduled for Feb. 26-27, five weeks in advance of the Phoenix Grand Prix on April 2. It will mark the first Indy car event in 11 years at PIR, which hosted 61 Indy car races from 1964-2005.

Under the regulations that went into effect Aug. 31 and remain through the final race of the 2016 season on Sept. 18, a Verizon IndyCar Series team (defined by INDYCAR as one or more entrants/car numbers under common ownership or control) is permitted a total of eight team test and/or full-size wind tunnel test days. Teams that also field a full-season entry in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the top rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder, will now be granted an extra Verizon IndyCar Series team test day once the Indy Lights entry has participated in five 2016 races.

Verizon IndyCar Series teams will continue to receive an extra test day if seat time is divided between a Verizon IndyCar Series driver and Indy Lights driver.

“These regulations balance diverse interests in our paddock while containing costs and fostering great competition,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, the parent of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We are really looking forward to our first promoter test next spring in Phoenix as a great opportunity to showcase the return of PIR to the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“The testing regulations provide teams the opportunity to earn additional test days for competing in Indy Lights and by testing a driver who is a current competitor in Indy Lights,” Miles added. “This year the shared test day rule provided several Indy Lights drivers the opportunity to test a Verizon IndyCar Series car at Sonoma Raceway, which we felt was instrumental in the continued development of these young drivers and the overall growth of the ladder series.”

INDYCAR has scheduled eight promoter test days in 2016, open to all entrants and mandatory for Leaders Circle members. Promoter test days do not count against the eight-day team test allotment. The Phoenix promoter test in February is the only one not in conjunction with a typical race weekend schedule. The other promoter test days are:March 11, St. Petersburg; April 22, Barber Motorsports Park; May 12, Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course; June 24, Road America; July 29, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course; and Sept. 16, Sonoma Raceway.

A full-season entrant is allocated a maximum of 10,000 engine miles for use in all tests and race events from the start of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season to the start of the 2017 season. Testing mileage accrued between the end of the 2015 season and start of the 2016 season will come from the entrant’s remaining 2015 mileage allocation – which was also 10,000 miles – or be charged at a per-mile rate set by the respective engine manufacturers, Chevrolet and Honda.

Other testing regulation highlights include:

  • INDYCAR has scheduled an aero kit safety test April 6 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. All full-season entrants are permitted to participate in the test, which will be used by INDYCAR to determine approval of aero kit components for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
  • Verizon IndyCar Series teams with rookie drivers are allocated two additional team test days for the rookie driver.
  • Rookie drivers must successfully complete a superspeedway (ovals 1.5 miles or longer) rookie test prior to participating in a superspeedway promoter test or practice for a superspeedway race, whichever comes first. Rookies participating in the Indianapolis 500 only are permitted a superspeedway test day for the purpose of driver evaluation. The Indianapolis 500 rookie orientation test is scheduled for May 16 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
  • New Verizon IndyCar Series teams are granted four additional team test days.
  • In-season tire testing requested by Firestone, exclusive tire supplier for the Verizon IndyCar Series, must be approved by INDYCAR. Participation is limited to two days per team by invitation from Firestone. All teams are permitted to have one car participate in team testing in conjunction with any approved tire test.
  • Engine manufacturer testing is limited to two days each for Chevrolet and Honda, from Sept. 14, 2015, to March 3, 2016. Mileage accrued while using a manufacturer’s development engine will not count against an entrant’s 10,000-mile limit. No team may participate in more than one of the engine manufacturer test days.
  • Aero kit suppliers Chevrolet and Honda are permitted three days of aerodynamic bodywork component testing each between Sept. 14, 2015, and the end of the 2016 race season. Mileage accrued while using a manufacturer’s development engine will not count against an entrant’s 10,000-mile limit.

All ovals and permanent road courses on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series North American schedule are approved testing venues. Additional approved oval test venues are: Auto Club Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Richmond International Raceway and The Milwaukee Mile. Additional approved road course test venues are: Circuit of the Americas, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Palm Beach International Raceway, Sebring International Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

Testing blackout dates are: Nov. 25-30, 2015; Dec. 21, 2015-Jan. 3, 2016; and May 9-30, 2016. In addition, teams may not conduct on-track testing within seven days prior to the start of any on-track activity at a race location (i.e., a promoter test or the first day of practice on a race weekend).

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.