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New series rules laid out for 2012

8 February 2012

IndyCar's new president of competition and race director Beaux Barfield has issued the first draft of the document outlining the latest sporting and technical regulations for the series in 2012.

The new rules take on board lessons learned from controversial events during 2011 such as the New Hampshire Motor Speedway race, as well as recommendations from the official report into the fatal accident at the season finale in Las Vegas in October.

There is also provision for a new manufacturers' championship, now that Honda has been joined in the series as an engine supplier by Chevrolet and Lotus.

For Barfield, it's his first opportunity to put his stamp on the series since assuming the role at the start of the year, taking over from Brian Barnhart.

"For me, it's important that certain rules make sense for my style," said Barfield, who stressed that he also didn't want to cut back the rules too far and leave gaps, loopholes and oversights in the process and that the process had been much more of a review than a ground-up rewrite.

Adding that he was "being careful to not cut out too many elements that have value," he said: "There's a lot of heritage to these rules that you want to preserve and make sure you don't create any pitfalls by getting rid of items."

Barfield explained that any rulebook has to be a balance of the needs of the teams and of the series organisers. "A rulebook is written to protect the rights of its competitors and empower the officials," he said. "I'm confident that we've created the proper balance with this rulebook moving forward this season."

Among the specific changes to the rules are a new instant messaging system between Race Control and all the participants of an event with team managers able to contact Race Control directly. A failure of communication was specifically blamed for the heavily criticised decision by Race Control to attempt a restart in New Hampshire despite the fact that it was still raining at the time.

As recommended in the Vegas accident report, a minimum of two Track Condition Radio steering wheel lights will also now be standard, complimenting additional audio and trackside visual cues alerting drivers to problems on the track.

Barfield also confirmed that an additional oval test had been added to the pre-season schedule to allow teams to test the new DW12 Dallara IndyCar on a 1.5-mile oval circuit and ensure that the same coincidence of factors that contributed to Dan Wheldon's death in Vegas are not in evidence.

The open test will take place on March 13 at Texas Motor Speedway, and will complement the traditional March 5-6 and March 8-9 open test at Sebring International Raceway. Teams will also be conducting a private test session in Texas later this month.

Barfield also confirmed how the manufacturers championship will work in 2012, with the highest-placed engine manufacturer at the end of a race receiving nine points, the second highest-placing manufacturer winning six points and the third-placed engine maker claiming three points.

The three engine manufacturers are currently racing against time to complete an extensive range of testing of this year's new specification 2.2-litre twin-turbo V6 units before February 24, which is the homologation deadline for the manufacturers to decide upon and submit their final specifications to the organisers.

Barfield went on to point out that even once it was signed off and finalised, the 2012 rulebook was just the first step in an ongoing process.

"At the conclusion of the 2012 season, this rulebook will be the base and we'll start immediately on 2013," he said, adding that he would be taking notes on what works and what doesn't during the upcoming season to factor into later discussions about the format of the 2013 rulebook.

IndyCar's vice-president of technology Will Phillips and a technical group of officials have also been reviewing regulations since the autumn and have added more scrutineering checks to the rule book.

"Our goal is to ensure as quickly as possible that everybody is following the letter of the law and the intention," said Philips.

As well as a comprehensive technical inspection process that measures, weighs and checks more than 100 items of the car, the rulebook now mandates that standardised parts from the basic Dallara chassis must be able to fit into a team's car during scrutineering.

"IndyCar officials started with a clean sheet when developing the 2012 technical regulations," said Philips. "Through the diligent enforcement of the rules we can help maintain an environment of safety and fair competition that benefits the participants and fans."


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