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Chevy teams grow restless with Bernard

Chevrolet objected but was overruled by the series' vice president of technology, Will Phillips. Chevy pursued the appeals process to its fullest extent which included two independent appeals adjudications, and duly lost in every round. But that did little to assuage their feelings of having been hard done by.

"I think it's very clear that IndyCar is not going to play favourites," said Bernard last week. Saying that he was fully aware of "the unbelievable amount of passion to win, desire to win, not only from drivers but mainly from team owners," he conceded: "When a call is not made in their direction, of course they're going to be upset."

While it initially appeared that Honda's upgrades had done little to narrow the gap in race performance that Chevrolet evidently had over Honda in the first four races of the current season - with Chevy cars also going on to dominate Indy 500 qualifying - the sudden improvement by the Honda camp on Carb Day and the eventual 1-2 finish by Honda-powered Ganassi cars in the race itself has apparently reopened the festering wound.

To the Chevrolet camp, the Indy 500 outcome has vindicated their original protest and 'proved' that the turbocharger decision was biased against them. There were mutterings that Honda had been 'sandbagging' during the turbocharger appeals process to get the ruling that they wanted - and even that they had brought in special new upgrades for their Race Day engines and for Ganassi in particular.

Will Phillips denied those suggestions on Tuesday. "The manufacturer does not pick who gets what engine, IndyCar does that," he said. "The Honda engines for the race were already allocated prior to qualifying." He added that there were some areas for overall engine development and that all of Honda's Race Day engines could have had improved mappings and calibrations, but that this was also true for Chevrolet and Lotus.

However, other sources - even in the rival engine camp - questioned whether Honda hadn't found someway to be able to play favourites. Driver Townsend Bell, for example, tweeted after the race: "Happy with finish given B league motor treatment. Wish I had the new spec to fight at the front."

But it's not only 'turbogate' that has team owners up in arms.

The unusual extensive raft of penalty fines levied on teams after qualifying weekend also hit teams where it most hurts - in the wallet. The IndyCar Series netted $275,000 in 18 different levied penalties on 13 different car teams for pre-qualifying technical violations. There was a further $25,000 post-qualifying fine subsequently imposed on the KV Racing Technology car of EJ Viso, after finding that the team had added internal components to retract the brake callipers and reduce friction between brake pads and brak discs.

Although retracting callipers is clearly against the IndyCar rulebook, such tweaks have been a common practice in the series for years and suddenly getting handed fines for it this year has clearly caught many teams out. They appear unhappy that they weren't alerted in advance to a new hard line being imposed, and cite it as another example of allegedly poor communications between Bernard's newly appointed senior series management officials and the teams themselves.

"I know a lot of teams are upset at the fines, and it might sting a bit right now," said race director Beaux Barfield last week. "But we want to make sure the big prize - $7 million in total prize money on Sunday and $3 million to win - is earned fairly."

This extra $300k 'sting' on teams came on top of heavy costs for buying the new Dallara DW12 chassis and the costs for engine deals with Chevrolet and Honda for the 2012 season. With the performance failure of Lotus meaning that the engine supply situation has become a de facto duopoly squeezing unit supply and driving licensing deals up, added to the monopoly in car bodywork spare parts for Dallara, the 'lower cost' new series specification is proving a lot more expensive than team owners feel that they had been led to believe going in.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Chevrolet`s Camero pace car. [Picture credit: IndyCar Media]
26-28 March 2010, St petersburg, Florida USA Roger Penske.
Former ALMS race director Beaux Barfield is appointed race director for the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012 by CEO Randy Bernard. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
IndyCar vice president of technology Will Phillips. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Randy Bernard at the announcement of the GoDaddy.com IndyCar Challenge. [Photo Credit: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media]
Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Briscoe go wheel-to-wheel during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon streaks across the start/finish line during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon crosses the start/finish line during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power sits on pit lane prior to the evening Open Test session at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud preps on pit lane prior to the evening Open Test session at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in his pit stand at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in his pit stand prior to track activity during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon leaves pit lane (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Crossing the start/finish line during testing (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Cars jostling for position through turn 2 during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Racewa (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The confetti flies as Scott Dixon celebrates winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon takes the twin chequered flags to win the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)

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Gorbachov - Unregistered

May 31, 2012 7:37 AM

Let's not play idiots guys. Honda had a faster car on Sunday period. Lotus were NOT allowed to touch the engines while Honda were allowed to make significant changes to their engines and decided Ganassi and Rahal were the teams to be favoured. Bernard made a series of big mistakes and should pay for it and get fired that's what happens when CEOs don't do their job as they promised!

SP3 - Unregistered

May 31, 2012 3:00 PM

@FrankG - actually, GM was and still is "Govt. Motors". Don't want to divert from the topic but the Federal govt. still owns 33% of the shares. GM did NOT pay back its loan as it loudly crowed at the time. It 'paid' the loan with TARP funds. All of this is found easily, not made up. As for your comment about whether they'd exist without the bailout, sure they would. They'd have gone through a regular bankruptcy just as any other company. The difference would have been that the tax payers wouldn't have had to foot the bill.



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