Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2012 Dallara IndyCar Chassis takes to IMS oval for first time

Credit: Jim Haines,

After several months of anticipation, the 2012 Dallara chassis debuted its speedway aero package and made its first circuits around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval yesterday as part of a 3-day test session.

Aesthetically, the back end of the car is ENORMOUS. As some internet personalities have put it, it's "Kardashian" enormous. The new rear wing is a lot lower than the previous Dallara chassis' and a lot smaller as well, which seems to indicate that there may be a pretty fair amount of downforce built into the chassis. The endplates are a lot smaller than in years past, which I find interesting. The past few years the teams have had a box to work with as far as customizing their endplate shapes goes, so hopefully we'll continue to see those little aerodynamic fine-tuning tweaks as development of next year's rules package continues.
As for the front end of the car, I'm a little skeptical about it. After reviewing several images, I can't visually detect any means of adjusting the front downforce (other than a small screw-looking tab in the center of the nose, but it was very inconclusive), but then again it's a new car and I'm sure that it'll be pointed out sooner or later. Furthermore, I feel that the front wing is a little too short in length (a la 1998 Reynard speedway front wings) and is totally dwarfed by the size of the enormous wing endplates being used in testing. I like the front end though because as far as the shape of the nose cone goes, while I wish Dallara had retained some harder bodylines in their design (this car has a lot of curves), I have to admit that it truly looks like a proper racecar. Overall, the car looks good, and I'm looking forward to seeing 33 of them hit the track next May.

Powered by a detuned 2.2-liter turbocharged Honda V6 powerplant, test driver Dan Wheldon logged enough laps to get a baseline for the next two days of testing, but was audibly nowhere near the limit in terms of lap speeds. As the IZOD IndyCar series has mandated that Honda detune its engine to negate a testing advantage, the car is underpowered as it stands. Wheldon was reported to be clocking laps roughly in the 180-mph bracket before calling it a day. Wheldon reported the car to be very reactive, challenging the driver to go for a little bit more each outing. The team was dealing with some minor stability issues but overall has had a very positive test.

Credit: TrackForum Poster ZUL8TR

Day 2 of testing continued this morning, and the team was reported to have picked speeds up an estimated 20 miles an hour over yesterday. Trackforum poster skcoop80 reported that Dan was clocking laps around 44.7 seconds, or roughly 201.4 mph. In addition, Trackforum poster ZUL8TR has graciously permitted AcrossTheBricks to display his footage recorded from the track today (above) showing the new car at speed in the South End of the racetrack. Based on the sound of it alone, this car is going to be putting a lot of smiles on peoples' faces come next season. Speaking as someone who's never heard a turbocharged Indy car, I'm really looking forward to hearing it.

UPDATE: New lap time reports from observers at the IMS place Wheldon in the 205-207 range at the conclusion of testing today.

Looking forward to Day 3 of testing before the Kentucky weekend begins!


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