3 June 2013
Walker unveils series' long-term technical development plan
IndyCar's newly appointed president of competition and operations Derrick Walker hit the ground running this weekend with details of the series' future technical development.
He's only officially been in post for a week since the end of the Indianapolis 500, but the new president of competition and operations of the IZOD IndyCar Series, former team owner and manager Derrick Walker, dived in with both feet this weekend at Detroit by tackling some of the thorniest issues facing the championship.
Aero kits, engine upgrades, improved safety and greater technical freedom for the teams to experiment in are all on the agenda in the newly-unveiled long-term technical development plan announced by Walker on Sunday.
Perhaps the most controversial issue is that of the aero configuration kits that have long been planned to allow Honda and Chevrolet to make their own aerodynamic trimmings to the basic DW12 Dallara chassis to make them more individual and open up another area of competition.
"I took this job because I wanted to and it was offered to me and it represented a huge challenge, a huge opportunity for me," said Walker. "I'm more than happy to be here. We're here to talk about one of the many favorite topics of conversation over the last year or so: the infamous aero kits!"
Aero kits have already been twice delayed amid complaints over cost from team owners, and Walker admitted that whether they will actually be introduced this time around depends very much on the team owners and engine manufacturers buying into the concept this time around - and that if they don't, it might have to be rethought or even dropped.
"It's easy to pass a rule and say, it's aero kits next year, knock yourself out, [but] what does it really mean, where is it going to go?" he said. The more we thought about it, the more we had to look out long-term. We went as far out as could imagine. What is the lifespan of this car realistically, the main components. What could we do that would maintain stability of that package.
"Also we had to look at the manufacturer's participation, what they were looking for," walker admitted. "We listened to the fans because the fans are a big component of this. The fans, whether you get it or not, we do, they want some kind of change. They like what they want, but they're still crying out for some other things, good old days, bring it back.
"We need to do it in a fiscally responsible way because change costs money as we all know," he conceded. "We had to do it in a way that we listened to the people who are going to probably spend the most money on this thing, the manufacturers. We had two manufacturers who had interest in doing aero kits, and a deeper participation in IndyCar. We wanted to listen to them because they're a big part of this.
"If you look at the current car, nobody wanted to buy that, at least at the time most of them didn't," Walker pointed out. "They hunkered down, made it happen. It was a tough pill to swallow, the cost of reinvesting in a car. Now we're at a better place.
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