11 May 2011
Dallara shows off new chassis potential
In addition, the new aero kits would not come in until next year's Indianapolis 500, and owners are concerned that this also leaves them paying out for the default Dallara aero kit as well for the earlier races of the season. Consequently, car owners worry that they may be looking at a first year outlay of over half a million dollars if aero kits are introduced in 2012.
However, Dallara are keen to point out the estimated savings of $349,000 to the teams in the purchase of the initial new-spec chassis compared with the old model, which includes everything but the seat and steering wheel, and that teams will no longer need sperate suspension packages for ovals and street courses. Additionally, "with only one set of suspension and uprights, that's a lot less spares that you have to carry," added Garrett.
A further concern among car owners is that Honda may have too much of a head start in designing and testing possible aero kits and will enjoy a huge advantage over Chevrolet and Lotus equivalents. With car owners assuming that it won't be an "open market" for aero kits - either for political, practical or technical reasons - and that they will be obliged to purchase the kits from their own engine supplier, teams who have signed deals with other engine manufacturers feel that they might be at too great a disadvantage in the 2012 season.
If the aero kits are delayed, then Dallara may be forced to reconsider their own plans for the 'default' kit that would be provided out of the box with the cars. A 'default' kit is one thing, but it's another matter altogether if it were to be seen on every car for a full season rather than just one alternative among many. The prototype aero components are currently being finalised through wind tunnel testing at the company's headquarters in Parma, Italy.
IndyCar chief executive officer Randy Bernard is yet to make a decision about the possible delay of introducing the aero kits. "I'll listen to our owners. I want and respect their opinions, but I want more feedback from the manufacturers and the fans."
Last week he was quoted as saying that "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 [delaying the introduction of aero kits] is the right thing to do."
IndyCar technical development has essentially been frozen for a number of years - the current specification car was first introduced in 2003 where from the start it was a compromise for the Speedway, high-speed and short-ovals even before the series embraced street and road courses following the unification with ChampCar at the start of 2008.
There is no question that the current chassis and engine specification is now very dated, with new arrivals into the series expressing surprise at how heavy and cumbersome they are compared with racing cars in other US and international motor sports series. The identikit/"all cars look the same" current status quo is undoubtedly frustrating both team technical developers, and IndyCar fans around the world.
"I want bodywork kits. I don't care what it takes," Target/Chip Ganassi Racing general manager Mike Hull told SPEED.com last week. "I'm tired of racing [identical-]spec cars."
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