IndyCar officials said they had attained a decent oval baseline for the new DW12 chassis during a test session Tuesday at Texas Motor Speedway. The test featured three teams and drivers – Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe, KV Racing's Tony Kanaan and Team Barracuda/Bryan Herta Autosport's Alex Tagliani, the latter getting his first taste of the Lotus development car (ABOVE) on an oval track. The Chevrolet- and Lotus-powered drivers worked through individual programs in the morning, then ran together multiple stints in the afternoon at the behest of series officials, setting up side-by-side and drafting situations.
"It all feels pretty normal right now – normal in a good way," said Briscoe, the 2010 race winner at Texas. "We're really just getting a feel for different downforce levels and the different suspension options that we have. We're able to get below (downforce level) where we ran with the old car. With the old car we were limited to a 10-degree free wing angle, and with this car we're free to trim out like Indy-style. We have that freedom and we're trying to explore the limits. The balance feels really good around here."
"For our first time on an oval in the new car, we learned some amazing things," said Tagliani. "Of course, we still have some work to do and we didn't have as much speed as we would have liked, but every time I came into the pits with a change, the guys were able to make it happen.
“Today's test is the first step in determining the right aero package based on team and driver input and data,” added IndyCar's vp of technology, Will Phillips. “Today's test is the baseline. Nothing negative has really stood out, and none of the drivers had any real complaints. Now we'll decide what our next step is for the test in March.”
Dallara-provided aero bits that were tested in the full-scale wind tunnel last month in North Carolina were utilized on all three cars, which had varying setups. The production car also is slightly different from the prototype that was evaluated on the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, Iowa Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway ovals last fall, which featured different mirrors, different rear wheel fairings, subtle differences in chassis construction and better integration of the Zylon side intrusion panels.
A Chip Ganassi Racing team test last week on the 2.0-mile Auto Club Speedway oval in Fontana, Calif., with Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball, also provided “some good feedback with weight distribution,” according to Phillips.
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