Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon took to the cockpit Monday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the first of his 12 scheduled days of evaluation testing of the prototype 2012 IndyCar Dallara, which is powered by the first of the 2.2-liter turbocharged Honda V6 engines. Additional testing will take place on three road course and three ovals, IndyCar announced.
“It's a great day,” project manager Tony Cotman told IndyCar.com. “To see the work of many individuals in a very short amount of time out on the racetrack...it's the start of a new era for IndyCar.”
The new design – a Dallara rolling chassis that will feature different body coverings for ovals and road/street courses – was recommended to the sanctioning body by the seven-member advisory committee in July 2010 after it reviewed multiple manufacturer concepts. It will replace the chassis that came on line in 2003 and was originally designed exclusively for oval racing.
No times were announced from the test, which was closed to the public. IndyCar said the next test of the prototype will be conducted next month at Texas Motor Speedway, again with Wheldon at the controls.
"It's a lighter car, it has more horsepower and it has a lot less drag than the current car, so naturally on the right day it will go quicker and that's something that the fans have to look forward to," Cotman added. "I think it also will provide a different type of racing with different engine manufacturers, too. It will be interesting, it will be exciting and it will be a bit of a change."
Engine manufacturers, each of whom have ordered a next-generation chassis, will commence testing in early October with their respective aligned teams. So far, Chip Ganassi Racing, A.J. Foyt Racing and Sam Schmidt Motorsports have signed on with Honda. Team Penske is the anchor team for Chevrolet.
The race teams are scheduled to receive their first chassis in mid-December.