IndyCar brake issues are being resolved, says PFC director
Performance Friction Corp.’s director of motorsports says the braking issues that caused problems for several teams at St. Petersburg are being rectified, but admits the Long Beach course will be a tough challenge.
Last September, IndyCar announced it was to switch from Brembo to Performance Friction Corporation as its sole brake supplier. Later it was decided that 2017 would be a transition year, with Brembo calipers being retained but with PFC pads and rotors. For certain teams and drivers this combination initially proved incompatible and the first two days of the season-opening round at St. Petersburg saw several issues of overheating brakes, and consequent braking inconsistencies.
Speaking at Barber Motorsports Park where all Verizon IndyCar Series drivers are testing today, Darrick Dong, PFC director of motorsports told Motorsport.com: “Half the teams [in St. Pete] had it pretty well figured out and half the teams were struggling with caliper temperatures. And for the most part it’s about learning that the system they have now is different than the system they had before and that a modern 3D carbon system disperses its energy in a different way."
IndyCar’s solution that weekend was to allow teams to come up with their own brake-cooling remedies in St. Pete and Dong said that how the brakes performed on raceday had offered some encouragement.
“Yeah, we only had eight laps of caution there so I think we came out of it OK,” he remarked.
Over the course of the St. Petersburg weekend, Brembo released a statement defending its calipers, stating that it had ‘not been asked to attend, contribute or participate in IndyCar Series brake development as IndyCar, PFC and the competitors have elected to assume such responsibility.’
Dong agreed, saying: “It certainly wasn’t a fault of anyone else’s product. At the end of the day there’s been a lot of learning by multiple parties including ourselves and I think the teams did an excellent job in resolving the issues themselves.
“Now that all parties are asking the right questions, we’re seeing an extraordinary amount of cooperation between everybody in an effort to minimize the problems.
“Some of the guys out there,” he continued, “were driving these things like go-karts. By that I mean there was a long transition phase where they were using the throttle and brake at the same time which sends the temperatures up and you can’t fix that without getting into their heads!”
Although Dong said that the teams were not having braking issues here at Barber, he said the second round of the series, at Long Beach next month, would create a big challenge – as would the 2018 car.
“Yeah, that’s a whole other story,” he said. “With IndyCar allowing the teams to develop their own systems, I hope everyone will have a good strategy for cooling the brakes at Long Beach. The main stipulation that IndyCar has made is that what the cars run at the start of the weekend they have to run throughout, so that people aren’t stripping off parts to create less drag for qualifying.
“And then the 2018 car will require us to do a lot of homework. I hope the cars are going to be going a fair bit quicker down the straights and then they’ll have to slow more for the corners because they’ll have less downforce.
“So that’s going to be a big challenge, but one we’ll relish.”
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