Motorsport.com spoke with Dale Harrigle as the 2015 IndyCar gets ready to get underway.
Dale Harrigle, Bridgestone Motorsports’ Chief Engineer and Manager of Race Tire Development, took some time to speak with Motorsport.com about the upcoming IndyCar season and what we can expect out of the tires that will carry these machines from the green flag, to the checkered flag.
Harrigle has been with the company for 23 years and involved with their motorsports program for 21, so certainly an expert in his field. Going into 2015, he is happy with the work done in preparation for the new year.
We didn't want (Chevy/Honda) trying to hit a moving target and we didn't want to hear that it favored one manufacturer over another.
Dale Harrigle on why tires remain the same for start of 2015
"Teams are very pleased with the tires. They want to go as fast as they can with as much grip as they can get and drivers seem happy so far."
New tires for Indy and Sonoma
"We've made a couple changes for the season based on what we learned last year," explained Harrigle. "The big one is that we're going to have a new left side and right side tire at Indianapolis. With the aero kits debut on the ovals, we looked hard at the cars, working very closely with both Chevy and Honda. Sonoma will also have a new tire, a bit softer than in year's past."
IndyCar did a lot of work on their own with their technical department to kind of cross check what they were getting from Chevrolet and Honda ... (We) played an integral part in the development process all along.
Firestone's role in aero kit development
"For the road and street courses to kick off the season, we went ahead and stayed with the race-proven tire from last year. Part of the reason why we did that was so that Chevrolet and Honda had a good, solid defined goal to work with in the development of their cars to. We didn't want them trying to hit a moving target and we didn't want to hear that it favored one manufacturer over another."
Aero kits and tires
How much of a hand did Bridgestone have in the development of the new aero kits? Well, according to Dale, quite a lot actually. "We worked very closely with both manufacturers. We attended most of the aero kit tests and they both shared a lot of their simulation data with us. IndyCar also did a lot of work on their own with their technical department to kind of cross check what they were getting from Chevrolet and Honda so we worked very closely with the series as well and played an integral part in the development process all along."
We try to match it with a track already on the schedule. In regards to NOLA, we are using the Barber tire
Dale Harrigle on how Bridgestone handles a new track
"With the increased downforce, we'll see quite a bit more grip," Harrigle continued. "We should also see some quicker lap speeds. Tough to say how it will translate to wear but we didn't see any issues in testing, but until we get the aero kits out in racing conditions, there's an unknown there. We'll also have to see how the aero kits affect the gap between the alternate and primary tires."
How do you plan for a new track?
NOLA is a new addition to the IndyCar calendar this year, which is scheduled to take place in New Orleans. That left Bridgestone with the task of making sure they brought the correct tire formula to this unproven circuit. "We really start by looking at the track map and the basics of the circuit. How long is a lap, how fast are the straights, the radius of the turns," Harrigle told Motorsport.com. "Once we have a good idea of the track, we start working with the teams and IndyCar. They are experts and have the ability to simulate these race cars with a high degree of accuracy so we really rely on that data."
"Once we know that information, we try to match it with a track already on the schedule. In regards to NOLA, we are using the Barber tire. A lot of the corner speeds and lap averages are similar. Everything looked fine in testing and it should be a great event."