Wirth Research have announced a new project with Honda Performance Development that will see the two companies collaborate on providing client IndyCar teams with full technical support, and which will also see the two companies develop the new bodywork aero kits that Honda will be offering to teams for use in 2013.
IndyCar is introducing a brand new core car for all teams from the start of the 2012 season, replacing the current model dating from 2003. The IndyCar safety cell has already been developed by Dallara and is currently undergoing test runs led by Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta Autosport and will be rolled out to teams over the winter.
A new engine specification is also being introduced, with Honda one of three engine manufacturers supplying the new 2.2-litre turbocharged V-6 engine for next season alongside Chevrolet and Lotus. The original plan was for the three engine suppliers to also provide aerodynamic bodywork kits (one for ovals, one for street courses) for the teams who have signed up for their power plants, but after team objections over costs the introduction of aero kits has now been delayed until 2013. Until then, the car will run default aero kits supplied by Dallara as part of the basic car build.
Last week, Honda announced that their bespoke IndyCar aero kit offering will be developed in partnership with Wirth Research, the British engineering group founded by Nicholas Wirth in 2003 that has recently been key to developing the Virgin Racing F1 car.
It's the latest partnership between Honda and Wirth, which has already seen Wirth Research's advanced all-digital aerodynamic and chassis development process contribute to Honda's American Le Mans LMP1 and LMP2 prototype category entries. The LMP1 category HPD ARX-02a won the outright ALMS title in 2009 while earlier this year the closely related HPD ARX-01e came close to overcoming the current diesel monopoly when Highcroft Racing's entry finished a close second to Peugeot in the 12 Hours of Sebring.
"Our relationship with Wirth Research has already delivered some remarkable results in all of the world's greatest sportscar series, and races including both the 12 Hours of Sebring and Le Mans 24 Hours," said HPD vice-President Steve Eriksen. "We have total trust in Wirth Research's proven design, development and engineering expertise.
"On top of this comes our new IndyCar project," he continued. "With the advent of new multi-engine regulations plus plans to allow manufacturers to introduce their own bodywork packages, our special relationship with Wirth Research takes on additional impetus and importance in the next few years."
Wirth Research's signature offering is their use of advanced ground-breaking digital Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) systems to optimise chassis and aerodynamic development, which is a much more cost-effective way of designing race cars and aero kits than traditional wind tunnel methods.
"The results we have achieved together to date at the peak of international sportscar racing speak for themselves and underline the level we have achieved [with CFD]," said Nick Wirth. "Now we have taken full advantage of the flexibility and efficiency offered by these ground-breaking technologies to ensure our hugely successful sportscar programme goes from strength-to-strength. Moreover we will be in a position to offer similar technical resources to the Honda IndyCar teams in 2012 and beyond."