Conor Daly described the fresh Dallara chassis being mated to the AER engine as “a serious machine” that will open a new era for the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system.
Daly will shake down the 2015 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires car at Putnam Park in Greencastle, Ind., July 30 and drive in a proper test session Aug. 4 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He visited Dallara Automobili’s U.S. headquarters in Indianapolis on July 29 to get a feel for the cockpit and attributes of the car.
“This thing will be awesome,” exclaimed Daly, who last weekend scored his first points of the GP2 Series season by finishing seventh in Hungary.
The Dallara IL-15 chassis was unveiled May 23 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Dan Andersen, owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions, which oversees all aspects of the Mazda Road to Indy, previously announced that Advanced Engine Research would supply the 2-liter, turbo-charged engine.
Project manager Tony Cotman said safety was at the forefront of design. The car mirrors the Verizon IndyCar Series car supplied by Dallara with full-length anti-intrusion panels, side-mounted radiators to assist in energy absorption, a raised monocoque to protect the driver’s head, a front wing span to reduce wheel-to-wheel contact and increased underwing width to also reduce wheel-to-wheel contact. The driver’s seat fits the Indy Lights and Verizon IndyCar Series chassis.
The introduction of the chassis to competition in spring will coincide with the 30th anniversary of Indy Lights.
“We want to iron out any issues (at Putnam Park) and make sure all the basics are covered,” Cotman said. “At Mid-Ohio, No. 1 is to start accumulating some miles. We have two or three targets that we need to meet and we’ll be doing a lot of validation of Dallara (simulation) work. We want to make sure that all the information we provide to teams we’ve validated ourselves.
“When you buy a new (passenger) car you don’t say ‘See you later.’ There’s a lot of information that comes with it and sometimes it’s difficult to decipher at one time. Any information that we gain from the tests will be available to all teams to help them jump-start their programs.”
Tristan Vautier, the 2012 Indy Lights champion, also is scheduled to drive during late-summer testing, while Cotman said Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Scott Dixon and James Hinchcliffe will participate in testing as schedules allow. Daly, who made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in the 2013 Indianapolis 500, also has driven in Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and GP3. He said he's been looking forward to the opportunity to take the new car out for a spin.
"The thing that interested me in Conor is that he's driven in so many different series," Cotman said. "I feel with him we'll get an honest baseline of where we sit."