By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
IndyCar continued its round of tests for the new 2018 universal aerokit at Iowa Speedway this week where test drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Oriol Servia experimented with the Road Course/Short Oval spec car on the 0.894 mile oval.
The veteran duo completed 270 laps as they sampled the new kit in various trims to determine a base line set up for next year’s race, where they added and then took downforce off of the cars to find the elusive sweet spot. Like the previous tests at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Mid-Ohio, the drivers were gushing in their praise for the new design.
“It’s interesting how you can run the same lap time and in one downforce level you’re completely flat out and the other one you are lifting,” said Montoya. The two-time Indy 500 champ came to prefer running the lowest downforce setting in his Chevrolet powered, Team Penske test car.
“When you run wide open in the new kit with higher downforce, the thing is like 7 mph difference between the corners and the straight,” Montoya explained. “The other one with less downforce is like 20 mph difference, so you get to see acceleration out of the corners and I think it’s going to create better racing.”
The lower downforce will ensure that the drivers have to work the cars harder for good lap times and it should also make it easier to drive in traffic with less turbulence for a following driver. Once again, shifting the production of downforce to the underwing is proving beneficial.
Servia agreed with Montoya that the cars were more fun to drive and should provide better racing in the future. “I was able to run a decent distance behind Juan Pablo, and the car just loses a little bit of grip but with a four-tire kind of slide,” Servia said. “It’s not like the front loses a lot or the rear loses a lot, which is the problem with the current car.”
Tino Belli’s team of aerodynamicists and Dallara have one more test for their new creation coming up next month in Sebring, Florida before they hand it over to the teams to begin 2018 pre-season testing. All signs are so far pointing to a safer, better looking, more exciting car that looks set to move the series into the future.