IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard confirmed on US television last night that the series car owners have voted unanimously to delay the introduction of new aero bodywork kits to the incoming new 2012 Dallara chassis.
The vote - taken at an owners' meeting while the teams were in Brazil for the Ipaitava Sao Paulo Indy 300 - was said to be 15-0 in favour of the delay, with AJ Foyt abstaining. Jimmy Vasser was rumoured to have been one of those owners calling for the introduction of the new kits to be delayed from 2012 until 2013, and to be leading the opposition to any earlier introduction of the kits.
"The owners voted Saturday in Brazil that they didn't want to do the new bodywork kits next year," said Bernard, who admitted that the strength and unanimity of the vote had made a distinct impression on him. "IndyCar's position is that we want it for our fans and our manufacturers but I guess we can't make the owners do it."
The car owners are concerned about the cost of the individualised aero kits, which has been set at $75,000, coupled with the lack of time to get them developed as the new chasis is yet to be launched.
"The biggest thing about our team owners is that we are hitting them with a lot of capital outlay next year," conceded Bernard. "I respect the fact they have to spend a lot of money for new cars and engines and we are here for the long term. But I don't think it's the right thing to do."
However the team position is not as united as the vote might make it look. Target/Chip Ganassi Racing general manager Mike Hull told SPEED.com
that "This isn't CART, this isn't an owner's organization - we don't make the rules, the sanctioning body makes the rules," and said that he wanted the kits "because I'm tired of racing [identical-]spec cars.
"I told them I think we're making a big mistake here," he continued. "I want bodywork kits. I don't care what it takes."
The aero kits are the elements of the car not directly related to the core safety cell chassis, which is being redeveloped by series supplier Dallara for 2012 along with new specification engines from Honda, General Motors/Chevrolet and Lotus. While the chassis and engines are mandated by IndyCar, the flexibility of teams developing their own aero kits to "dress" the basic chassis will allow the teams' technical directors their own opportunity to have a real impact on the car's performance.
The chassis would ship with a "default" aero bodywork from Dallara, and alternative aero kits would be manufactured by the engine suppliers, who will therefore be directly affected by any decision. "I haven't spoken with Lotus yet but Honda and GM said they would do whatever is needed," Bernard said. "It will be a significant savings for them next year."
Some reports suggest that it's General Motors/Chevrolet who want to drop the aero kits and that Roger Penske - who is credited with bringing GM into the series - is leading the fight on their behalf, but Penske was quick to deny this. "I heard people are saying it's Penske and Chevrolet thing but there were 15 people in that room who all voted the same way," he pointed out.