IndyCar gets boost from new bodywork
There’s a new aerodynamic bodywork kit coming for racers in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Actually, two versions of the kit, one for superspeedway ovals, and another for smaller ovals, road courses, and street circuits.
Recently the new Dallara IR-12, equipped with new universal bodywork, was tested with two cars at Indianapolis, one Honda-powered and driven by Oriol Serva, the other Chevrolet-powered and driven by Juan Pablo Montoya.
This new generation Dallara, which will be employed for 2018, has been designed with the sleek look of Indy cars from the early 1990s. It has smaller lower wings and no rear wheel guards along with other styling cues. The removal of the rear wheel fenders is welcome, as they make the present cars look somewhat ungainly.
The new cars will feature an enhanced LED display on their sides showing each car’s position in the running order, the time of a pit stop and when push-to-pass is engaged, giving fans a better understanding of the race. There will also be more cameras on the new cars allowing fans more on-track action viewing.
The new cars will be safer, as well, with two bulkheads to create a proper crushable structure ahead of the radiator. The unitary construction is designed to absorb loads from all directions, and the structure is eight to 10 inches wider at the driver’s hips. The top of the side pod has been designed to exceed FIA side impact tests. The inlet duct, side pod side and bottom have been constructed in hybrid carbon/dyneema fibres for improved penetration protection. Oil and water radiators have been moved forward, adding cushioning on the driver’s side. More downforce underneath the car, something drivers have been asking for, will be generated with the new style. This will help in manoeuvreability and aid cars from going airborne in certain racing situations.
These are the first major changes in the Dallara since 2012. The Italian-based firm has built chassis and bodies for several Formula series in Europe and has been supplying IndyCar for the past 20 years.
“From lap one, it just felt at home,” said Oriol Servia of his recent test at the Brickyard. He has driven Indy cars since 2000, and put 100 laps on the new car. “The car felt great. I was flat on it out of the pits, which just says how good the car felt right away … I think it’s going to be a fast, good racer.”
Former Formula One driver and one who has dabbled in NASCAR Cup racing, Juan Pablo Montoya has raced IndyCar for two decades and has two Indy 500 wins to his credit. The 41-year old agreed with Servia after driving the new car:
“It’s exciting because, for the first time in the car, it drives really, really well,” said Montoya. “I think they addressed a lot of the things, and the car looks great. I think having one aero kit for everybody is great for the sport. The car looks good and it drives really good.”
Hopefully, the IR-12 will provide the impetus to get fans more excited about IndyCar racing. And if that happens, along with closer, more exciting racing in a safer environment for the drivers, we could have a winner here.
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The author of several books on auto racing, Tim Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Juan Pablo Montoya takes the new Dallara IR-12 for a spin. The model will be employed for the 2018 season.