INDYCAR vice president of technology Will Phillips said that the shallow angle and high speed of Marco Andretti’s car relative to the leading car of Graham Rahal were contributing factors in the wheel-to-wheel contact on Lap 23 of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 15.
Review of the video and telemetry data by Dallara and INDYCAR showed the cars running nose to tail at 120.6 mph on the street circuit when the left-front tire of Andretti’s car compromised the right-rear wheel guard of Rahal’s car upon contact and broke off the rear wing.
The undertray of Andretti’s car briefly rode atop the right-rear wheel of Rahal’s car, launching it into the air and into the Turn 8 tire barrier. Andretti climbed from the car without assistance from the Holmatro Safety Team.
“The rear wheel guard was designed to reduce wheel-to-wheel contact. It can’t eliminate it,” Phillips said. “In this instance, it could not prevent it but it mitigated what could have been a worse accident.
“In several instances during the race it did exactly what it was designed to do. In one instance, it was not able to completely prevent wheel-to-wheel contact.”
INDYCAR officials have placed Rahal on probation through the next six race events for blocking and initiating avoidable contact. The probation period will end following the IZOD IndyCar Series event June 23 at Iowa Speedway. If the improvements are not met, INDYCAR may impose other penalties at its discretions.