INDYCAR confirms 2016 rulebook updates, aero news, double points return

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INDYCAR has outlined key updates to the 2016 rulebook, pertaining primarily to aero kits and also a formal confirmation of double points returning for both the Indianapolis 500 and Sonoma season finale, as was done this year.

The full release is below:

Refinements to the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series rulebook, distributed to teams and suppliers Dec. 19, clarify procedures established by INDYCAR in the past two seasons and highlight ongoing efforts to improve the overall fan experience in the upcoming season. Areas of interest in the rulebook include the following:

Aero Kits

 INDYCAR has established in the rulebook the aerodynamic bodywork parameters for each of the five ovals on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. The aero specifications for each oval include:

  • Phoenix International Raceway, which will see a 2016 return of Indy car racing for the first time in 11 years, will run the same aero configuration as used at Iowa Speedway in 2015.
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway will run the same aero configuration as in 2015, with the addition of rear wheel guard infills that were implemented at Texas Motor Speedway in 2015, as well as a domed skid plate underneath the car and rear wing beam flaps. The skid plate and beam flaps were announced Nov. 24 as part of INDYCAR’s continuously evolving safety enhancements.
  • Texas Motor Speedway’s aero configuration, which included the rear wheel guard infills in 2015, will add the domed skid plate and rear wing beam flaps in 2016, plus see a slight increase in available downforce.
  • Iowa Speedway will see a slight reduction in available downforce due to a reduction in rear wing angle.

Indianapolis 500 Qualifying

 Under the updated regulations, the provisional field of 33 cars for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be set on the first day of qualifications at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval on May 21, 2016. This means that any traditional “bumping” of cars from the field of 33 will take place on the first day of qualifying.

 Procedures for the second day of 2016 qualifying, scheduled for May 22, will see race starting positions among the 33 provisional qualifiers finalized.

Awarded Points

 Race finish points awarded for the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and the season finale at Sonoma Raceway will again be worth double the normal race finish points, with first place at Indianapolis and Sonoma netting 100 driver and entrant championship points, second place 80 points and down to 10 points for 33rd finishing position.

 Allocation of championship points for Indianapolis 500 qualifying will be awarded based on final-day qualifying, with the Verizon P1 Award pole winner receiving 42 points, second fastest earning 40 and descending to the 33rd-fastest qualifier getting one point.

Other Updates

 The Indianapolis 500 rookie orientation test has changed its three phases for new drivers to be approved for competition. The phases for 2016 are: 10 laps at 210-215 mph, followed by 15 laps at 215-220 mph and 15 laps at 220-plus mph. Each phase sees an increase of 5 mph from 2015.

 Turbocharger boost pressure for the Chevrolet and Honda twin-turbocharged, 2.2-liter V-6 engines when push-to-pass overtake assist is engaged on road and street courses will increase from 160 to 165 kilopascals (kPa), yielding approximately 20 added horsepower. INDYCAR announced this change Dec. 15.

 Both engine manufacturers will use a uniform Sunoco E85R fuel in 2016, with the removal of an additive (HiTEC 6590) previously allowed for Chevrolet.

 The minimum car weight has been increased to accommodate for safety enhancements including the Suspension Wheel/Wing Energy Management System (SWEMS) additional bodywork component tethers announced Nov. 24. The car weights will increase 10 pounds to 1,610 pounds on road and street courses and short ovals, and to 1,580 pounds on superspeedways.

 The pit speed limit at all ovals will be 50 mph, another safety initiative. In 2015, the limit on superspeedways was 60 mph.

 A rules clarification stipulates that all cars using the Honda aero kit must include the chassis center line wicker. Cars using the Chevrolet or stock Dallara aero kit may not include the chassis center line wicker.

 During race weekends that include a promoter test day, teams are permitted to carry over one used set of tires from the promoter day to the next practice session of the weekend, but must return the set after that session.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.