By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
IndyCar has increased the minimum weight for both the super speedway and road course/short oval trims for the universal aerokit equipped cars in 2018, according to RACER.com.
The weights, which exclude driver, fuel, drinking bottle and ballast have gone up by 10 pounds in each trim and are now 1,620 pounds for the road course/short oval trim, and 1,590 pounds for super speedway trim.
The move is due to the new safety measures introduced for the coming season, specifically more robust zylon anti-intrusion panels for the sides of the monocoque which are housed inside the new, larger sidepods. The minimum weight numbers are also up in case the series decides to add their aeroscreen solution to the cars later this year.
The safety benefit will be significant and is purposely designed to prevent the kind of incidents like the one James Hinchcliffe suffered at Indianapolis in 2015 when he hit wall and a large piece of the suspension pierced the cockpit and his leg which caused life threatening bleeding.
It is especially notable considering just how much bodywork has been removed in the makeover from the manufacturer aerokit era to the slimmed down universal aerokit era, but any improvement in the name of safety is easily worth the very minor weight penalty, especially in a car with such a reduced drag coefficient over its predecessor.
IndyCar’s proposed aeroscreen test is still scheduled for the series first open test of the year at Phoenix International Raceway on February 9th and 10th. Jay Frye has been pushing hard behind the scenes to make sure the device is ready, and must be appluaded for deciding to schedule its on track debut for an open test. So far the IndyCar team has done a remarkable job of keeping the device underwraps and it remains to be seen if it will resemble Red Bull’s proposed aeroscreen for F1, the sheild concept briefly tested by Ferrari, or something else entirely.
We will likely know more details thanks to a special Aerokit unveiling by IndyCar on January 16th at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show. There will also be a special panel to discuss the new car and everything IndyCar featuring the likes of Jay Frye, Mario Andretti, Mark Miles, Roger Penske and current series champ Josef Newgarden.