May 12, 2012
“That’s new” one of the thousands of spectators on Opening Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway remarked as the No. 8 KV Racing Technology car prepped for Rubens Barrichello cruised past on an installation lap.
Yes, there’s plenty new relating to the IZOD IndyCar Series cars:
• New, safer chassis from Dallara that will compete for the first time on an oval May 27.
• Consumer-relevant 2.2-liter V-6 engines supplied by Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus. Chevy and Lotus are twin turbocharged.
• Engine competition at the Speedway for the first time since 2005, and the sound of turbochargers at the Speedway for the first time since 1996.
• Engines fueled with E85.
• Superspeedway-specific aerodynamic bodywork, featuring rear-wheel guards that have a slightly different shape than the sets being used on the road/street circuits and the oval races at Texas Motor Speedway, Iowa Speedway and the Milwaukee Mile.
• Options for set-up, including experimentation with a rear-wing mainplane angle of between 0 and -10 degrees, underwing strakes and sidewall extensions (to keep air from becoming turbulent under the car), wickers on the front- and rear-wing mainplanes and the beam wing, and radiator inlet shutters.
The rear-wheel guard/wings work in combination with the other bodywork to create less drag and more downforce.
“I think they’re stylish,” INDYCAR vice president of technology Will Phillips said during a public Q&A session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Performance-wise, they came about in order to try to reduce some of the drag on the car and raise the speeds on the superspeedway. They actually add some downforce, reduce some drag compared to the road course configuration. So they basically add a couple of miles an hour to what we would have done if we were running the road course rear-wheel guards and endplates.
“Safety is always first, but if you can make something safe that also looks good then you’re in a win-win situation. When we first ran the rear-wheel guards here in the Speedway configuration they didn’t look as good as they do now. By Dallara working away, they managed to keep form and function.”
The evolution will continue in 2013 with the introduction of multiple aero kits, potentially providing distinctions between many of the 33 starters.
Phillips said aero kit rules will be distributed "very shortly" to entities that have expressed interest in the project, and he expects to receive entries by the end of the month. As proposed when the new car was unveiled in July 2010, aero kits will be an open development area open to any company that meets INDYCAR requirements. Oval and road course kits will have a capped cost to teams.
“The expense of doing an engine program just to allow you to do an aero kit is prohibitive,” Phillips said. “Trying to entice manufacturers or third-party suppliers to come in and do an aero kit, yes it’s not cheap, but it’s not nearly as expensive as doing an engine program as well. So you don’t have to do an engine to do an aero kit.”
Phillips also noted that INDYCAR is speaking to another engine manufacturer, who could join competition in 2014.
Earlier this week, INDYCAR announced that turbocharger boost levels will increase for “Fast Friday” and the two days of time trials for the Indianapolis 500.
The standard boost level of 130 kPa (kilopascals) for superspeedways will be upped to 140 kPa for the May 18 practice session, Pole Day on May 19 and Bump Day on May 20. The increase will result in the addition of 40-50 horsepower.
“We expect to see another 4 or 5 miles an hour from that, so that could be (about) 225 if the weather (temps in the mid-70s, partly cloudy) stays like this,” INDYCAR director of engine development Trevor Knowles said.
That’s the target INDYCAR sought at the Speedway with the new car/engine package, Phillips said.
The boost level will be 130 kPa for all other practice days and Race Day on May 27.
"I think (manufacturers) are more confident now that they have miles on the engines that they can take the higher levels of boost for longer than we first thought," Knowles said.
It also will be 130 kPa for the superspeedways of Auto Club Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. The boost level for the short ovals of the Milwaukee Mile and Iowa Speedway is 140 kpa, while it’s 155 kpa for road and street circuits. Push to pass also is being discussed.