Newly signed to Dale Coyne Racing, where he enjoyed his most recent IndyCar win at Watkins Glen in 2009, Justin Wilson is enjoying getting back to business - and getting to know the new Dallara-Honda DW12 IndyCar Safety Cell chassis and brand-new specification Honda engine that he'll be using in 2012.
Wilson said that the 2.2-litre V6 turbocharged engines made him think of the last time that he was racing with turbos, back in his Champ Car days before the series combined with Indy Racing League to create IndyCar in 2008.
"Converting back to turbos is like driving an improved Champ Car," he said, adding that the lag in the turbo power kicking in had been reduced but was still very appreciable.
When it comes to the handling of the new car, Wilson said that the handling could still be pretty tricky especially if the tyre selection wasn't spot-on: "There's still so much scope to adjust the handling, it's about who's smart and discovers all those things first".
That means there's an opportunity for Dale Coyne's small operation to tap the potential of the car first and take the fight to the big teams like Ganassi and Chevrolet. "Sure, we'll have our bad days, but I think we'll have a lot of good days," he suggested.
Wilson was writing in his latest blog entry for Racer.com,
which also covered his part in the winning Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona entry
at the end of January. "It's good to be back and it's great to be back with a win," he wrote of being able to claim victory with the #60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian team.
Wilson confirmed that his back injury sustained during an IndyCar practice session at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course last summer had not given any cause for concern at Daytona. Some "tingling" that he experienced after his first double stint at the wheel was "just my back muscles getting a wake-up call," he said, proving that some muscles used in driving simply can't be sufficiently exercised outside of the real thing.
Dale Coyne Racing will next be testing at the official session at Sebring with James Jakes expected to continue in the second seat in 2012, but Wilson admitted that there was a parts shortage and that the team was still battling to get all the car components they need.
Wilson also used his blog entry to clarify comments circulating in the press that suggested he and Tony Kanaan were considering boycotting the oval race at Texas Motor Speedway over concerns that the new car has too much downforce on oval circuits in relation to the engine horsepower - meaning that cars will be able to circulate in packs at close quarters at speeds of over 220mph.
Wilson insisted that a boycott wasn't on the cards and that he'd already had productive discussions with IndyCar vice presidency of technology Will Phillips about measures to reduce the downforce at Texas to meet everyone's concerns.
"We're disappointed with the position we're in but right now we feel like we can't really boycott," Wilson told reporters last week.
"I can tell you after the test that there's going to be pack racing with this aero package unless the downforce is reduced," Tony Kanaan agreed after taking part in the first test of the DW12 on the Texas speedway last week. "Having said that, we don't think boycotting is the right thing to do at this time."
Wilson also called on the series to look into improved safety fencing around the ovals, describing the current catchfence as being "like a cheese grater."
"We think the other type of fencing works better - but if we don't have pack racing then the fence isn't as big an issue," agreed Kanaan, who along with Wilson and Dario Franchitti represents the drivers' safety committee formed after the tragic events at Las Vegas last October.