Mark Miles reveals plans to allow HPD to catch up with Chevy, but GM’s Jim Campbell is left unimpressed by the invoking of Rule 9.3
IndyCar has decided to invoke Rule 9.3 and allow Honda to catch up aerodynamically with Chevrolet in aero kit development.
Despite Honda-powered Graham Rahal being a championship contender in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series, the championship independently windtunnel-tested each of the 2015 aero kits and concluded there was a big enough difference in short-oval and road/street format aero performance that it was detrimental to the series.
Addressing the media this morning, Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, IndyCar's parent company, explained the reasoning behind the series' decisions.
"Honda petitioned IndyCar under rule 9.3 to allow them to make some changes beyond what was permitted under rule 9.2 for next year," said Miles, "in order to have an opportunity to catch up in areas where there was a perceived deficiency compared with Chevrolet.
"You could look at data from laps led, to races won, results in the championship, and they provide a perspective.
"But our perspective was that we needed to know whether the aero kit was competitive or not. So we took control of the #9 car [champion Scott Dixon's Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara-Chevrolet] and the #5 car [Rahal's Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara-Honda] as they came off the track at Sonoma and took them to the Windshear tunnel in Charlotte.
"Testing was controlled by our engineers and data was compiled on set-up in superspeedway, short-oval and road/street course setup. Our conclusions and subsequent thinking was that we are going to allow Honda to propose making specific changes under rule 9.3.
"The data revealed that for short oval and road/street courses, the Honda kit was not competitive. However, we did not come to the same conclusion for superspeedways, where we believe that Honda were competitive."
"Honda and Chevrolet have been notified that Honda will have an opportunity to present the parts they would like to change under 9.3. This is designed to give them the chance to catch up but not exceed Chevy from 2015, before both companies have the opportunity under Rule 9.2 to make additional changes for next year.
"Regulation 9.2 has been planned all along; it allows that for 2016 both manufacturers would be able to make additional innovations and changes to aero kits from 2015, choosing three from nine potential so-called volume boxes."
HPD has already provided IndyCar with the parts it wishes to be approved, and this weekend the series' competition department will head back to Windshear, fix the modified road/street and short oval parts to to the 2015 car, and check they do not exceed the Chevy performance in 2015.
Once that approval is found, both manufacturers proceed with tackling 2016-spec modifications in their three chosen volume boxes under Rule 9.2.
To justify the granting of Rule 9.3 in this instance, Miles declared: "It's our view that both the substance provided by the data and the perception of the racing have provided significant hurdles for our teams racing with Honda.
"I make no apologies to anybody for following our rules and implementing them in a way that takes into account the concerns for the situations for all our teams. I think we're doing that responsibly."
Honda to re-sign agreement as engine supplier
Mark Miles was at pains to dismiss perceptions that Honda held the whip hand regarding the Rule 9.3 implementation, since it had not yet re-signed as an engine supplier.
He said: "This week we expect to receive a mock-up of the agreement that Honda will be ready to sign, and we'll be reviewing that and hope we can get it done in the next several days. But we never felt that a gun had been placed to our head by Honda.
"They never said to us, 'You've got to deliver this result and give us the opportunity to change our aero kits or we're not staying in the game.'
"I think they're committed to staying in IndyCar and it's probably worth noting that we still have not determined what they may or may not be able to do. Those decisions will only be made once we get back in the tunnel.
"They do know we're looking at it, they do know we're going to allow them to propose changes to two of the three aero configurations but the outcome of that, we have not decided."
Chevrolet's Jim Campbell disappointed by ruling
Following the news of IndyCar's implementation of Rule 9.3, Jim Campbell, Chevrolet's U.S. Vice President of Performance Vehicles & Motorsports stated: "All manufacturers received the same set of aero regulations and subsequent updates.
"I am proud of how our Chevrolet engineering team and partners worked continuously for nearly four years to prepare our kit for the optimal combination of downforce, drag and engine performance to give our teams the best opportunity to win poles, races and championships.
"The existing rules already allow each manufacturer the opportunity to improve on the performance of their aero kit and engine for 2016. So we are disappointed in the decision to invoke Rule 9.3.
"Chevrolet remains 100 percent focused on preparing for 2016 competition to again give our teams the best opportunity to win."