Photo: Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR

Recent Testing Equals ‘Validation’ for Honda

By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief

The new universal aero kit is looking promising in the buildup to the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Honda completed their latest round of manufacturer testing recently with the focus primarily on their superspeedway package.

James Hinchcliffe (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry) and four-time series champion Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing entry) were selected for the trials at both Texas Motor Speedway (Monday) and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Thursday), with representatives from every Honda-powered team on hand as well.

Admittedly eye candy for every person that has had a chance to see the new body kit up close, it has also brought an added joy for those that have taken to the track with it. Although both appearance and drivability are as important as any factor for the sport, much of testing is confirmation from all the hard work from everyone behind the scenes at Honda.

“The basic thing that we’re trying to figure out is what makes her tick,” said Hinchcliffe, during the test at the 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth, Texas on Oct. 23.

“It’s new to everybody. The windtunnel numbers are there, but ultimately, until you get it on to a race track you don’t know how it’s going to behave in certain situations. We’re not able to do windtunnel numbers in YAW. We’re not able to do windtunnel numbers in traffic. So we’re just trying to build the database for all the Honda teams right now. You know, what we’re doing is going to be information that is available to everybody.

“So that’s the big challenge – running as many laps as we can, as many different configurations as we can to just amass as much data as we can.”

For Dixon, it’s a major configuration change as he approaches his 18th season of competition, and that experience is a big reason why he is an asset to Honda’s testing program. The 37-year-old Kiwi shares the opinion of many of his peers in being a fan of a unified body kit. However, he noted many changes that have taken everyone time to get used to as there is much work still to be done before the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg.

“For a lot of this stuff I think is general mapping of the aero kit,” said Dixon.

“A lot of this will be done in windtunnels, CFD (Computer Fluid Dynamics) and so on. So this is kind of a validation for a lot of those things, but then also the way the inlet for the engine, cooling for the engine.

“The turbo placement is the same, but the pipes running it are totally different, so a lot of it is cooling as well. The radiator is all very different. Our electronic boxes have to be moved. We’ve gone to a completely new electronic system with Cosworth, which is taking a fair bit of time to try and feed through the bugs on that.

“There’s lists so long that we’re slowly trying to piece through it before we get to the first race in March.”

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Joey Barnes is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Motorsports Tribune. He has covered auto racing since 2013 that has spanned from Formula 1 to NASCAR, with coverage on IndyCar. Additionally, his work has appeared on Racer, and Autoweek magazine. In 2017, he was recognized with an award in Spot News Writing by the National Motorsports Press Association.