Hearing the turbocharged engine as it went through the gears and seeing the road course prototype aero kit during a visit last month to Dallara Automobili in Parma, Italy, heightened Will Phillips' excitement for the next generation IZOD IndyCar Series car. It also raised expectations.
"I continue to be extremely impressed with what I see. If it can deliver what it looks like it can, it will be fantastic and exciting," said Phillips, IndyCar's vp of technology. "Various parties put their pieces away and sorted out their issues and they'll all come back together for the car completion the beginning of next month."
The prototype 2012 car will go through its initial on-track test, with reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon behind the wheel, on Aug. 8-9 at Mid-Ohio. The initial test will not be open to the media or the public.
Phillips said the session will be a shakedown of the chassis that's been mated to a Honda 2.2-liter V6. Five other two-day sessions on both road courses and ovals are scheduled before the engine manufacturers – Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus – commence on-track testing in early October.
"It's really a systems check of everything, but we'll slowly get the car up to speed and take it from there," Phillips said. "If on day one there are no issues then day two you start pushing a bit harder. We're not out to achieve any goals but shaking the car down and making sure we're ready to go testing."
For the purposes of testing, the chassis is still a prototype. Dallara's winning proposal to the ICONIC Advisory Committee in 2010 included a uniform chassis with the potential of multiple road/street circuit and oval body kits. Aero kits could be supplied by any number of manufacturers or individuals upon receiving IndyCar approval.
"We need to make sure the parts from all aspects of the car are achieving their goals so we've got aero targets and straightline speed targets that we're looking to see," Phillips said. "We want to make sure the basics are right first before we go pushing for those targets. However, you have a really good day and might end up with those targets from day one.
"If the real numbers off the car don't match the simulation, don't match the CFD (computational fluid dynamics), then we obviously chase some changes, which is why we run the prototype and why we need to run it on all the configurations of circuits."