How will the proposed Lola IndyCars improve the race action?
“After safety, improving the show is the next prime focus for our Special Projects team. The majority of the downforce will be generated by a large central underbody,
this allows us to reduce the size of the front and rear wings creating downforce, which is less susceptible to variations when following another car closely. Lola is drawing upon its vast experience of open-wheel design to ensure the cars look both spectacular and race in a close and exciting fashion.
“The Lola aerodynamics team have utilized its experience in many areas, particularly the underbody design to find a minimum wake solution to promote more overtaking. In essence what happens in the air coming from the back of a racecar at speed is, you tend to get two vortex rings falling off the back end of the car. The Lola IndyCar will almost eliminate these forces via the underbody design and rear wing endplates at the back of the car. This, as our CFD study already shows, will minimize the wake and make its effect more manageable. Above all though it promotes better racing all-around, particularly in terms of giving ‘racing power' back to the driver.”
How will Lola ensure that the dual body styles are performance matched?
“The main reason for choosing one Lola bodywork configuration over the other would be a preference for the visual variety.
“How it will work practically is that Lola will match the configurations in the wind tunnel across the entire ride height range to ensure parity. It is most probable that the team's engineers will try very hard to get an advantage from one kit or the other, but there will be means, of policing that action. Lola has also designed a series of sized and configured aero blockers for the underbody that can be stipulated at a particular race venue. These will have the purpose of varying the downforce where required, but also ensure that one design does not gain an advantage over the other.”
What are the main focuses of the Lola IndyCar project?
“Lola had a number of meetings and continuous interaction with the IRL, beginning early in 2009. The messages from the IRL were very clear and in no particular order, we captured them as follows:
• Cost effectiveness
• Built in the USA
• Greater improved efficiency
• Modern design
• Green thinking
• Appealing to the fans and media
Is chassis competition possible for IndyCar at the moment?
“Intense competition and battles with other constructors is a fantastic spectacle and a rich environment for our engineers to be in. However, it is not conducive to keeping costs down, which has been one key criteria. The R&D alone is cost prohibitive and at present it would be counter productive for the IndyCar Series. This is exactly why the dual body style Lola IndyCars will short-cut a great deal of the concerns of the series.
“A return to multi-chassis grids may well be one option in stronger economic times. If the landscape is right, then Lola in terms of the engineering challenge would enjoy this environment.”
How has Lola looked at reducing a “take-off” scenario during a spin or contact?
“Lola uses a computer to simulate the flow over and under our car using advanced computational fluid dynamic (CFD) techniques, with the goal of making the car safer and more stable aerodynamically.
“We have firstly minimized the pitch sensitivity of our cars when following another. To do this, we have reduced the effect of the front and rear wings and we create the majority of the downforce from the central ground effect underbody.
“Secondly, using our aerodynamic experience from other categories, we have reduced the susceptibility of the cars to 'take-off' at high yaw angles. That means that the car is less likely to lift off as it spins at high speed.
“Thirdly we have reduced the size of the aerodynamic up-wash behind the car so that all cars travel in less turbulent air. This will enable the car behind to get closer to the car in front and improve the racing for us all. We are certain that what we can deliver is a step forward.”
What are the main advantages of having a common IndyCar and Indy Lights chassis, and was Lola asked to do this?
“The Indy Racing League didn't specifically ask for this concept. We believe Indy Lights can be an integral part of the IndyCar package for both teams and drivers alike. To have the same chassis for both series will also ensure driver safety for the feeder series.
“The common chassis idea was creative thinking at Lola and generates a cost-effective solution in the current economic climate and secondly in trying to assist the teams in terms of pragmatic racing in two series that run on the same bill. The crossover when you look hard at it helps both series and will encourage new teams to enter both IndyCar and Indy Lights. Above all it will ensure over-subscribed Indy 500 grids come May.”