IndyCar confirms aerokit freeze for 2017, universal kit in 2018
After months of speculation IndyCar announced today it has placed a freeze on aerokit development by Chevrolet and Honda that will take effect immediately in preparation for the 2017 season.
The manufacturers will run their current aero kit specifications next season as IndyCar prepares to introduce a universal aerokit for the start of the 2018 season.
"Today's announcement follows an extended dialogue with Chevrolet, Honda, our teams and stakeholders,” said Jay Frye, IndyCar’s president of competition and operations. “This decision focused on what is best for the future of the Verizon IndyCar Series.
"This is an integral component to IndyCar’s long-term plan to continue to produce the highest quality of on-track competition while also positioning ourselves to add additional engine manufacturers."
Aerokit regulations were initially announced in 2013 and introduced into on-track competition in 2015. The kits featured aerodynamic bodywork components that were designed, manufactured and supplied by Chevrolet [Pratt & Miller] and Honda [Wirth Research and Honda Performance Development] for road/street/short oval courses and a separate kit for superspeedways.
"The 2018 car is a tremendous opportunity for IndyCar and the design collaboration is already underway," Frye continued. "The goal of the universal car is to be great-looking, less aero dependent, have more potential for mechanical grip/downforce and to incorporate all the latest safety enhancements."
One Honda-powered team owner who did not wish to be named, told Motorsport.com: "The reality is that we're going to suffer again next year everywhere except the superspeedways. That's… a tough thing to warn your potential sponsors about.
"The upside is that it means we should have a good chance at the [Indy] 500 again. But we'll get killed by drag on the road courses. Street courses, we aren't too bad this year because the pitch sensitivity issue [from 2015] was pretty much cured."
Asked if he thought the longterm switch to a universal kit was the right way forward for 2018, he said: "Yeah, totally. I always thought the aerokit thing was going in the wrong direction, and that we'd end up with the manufacturer who did better loving it, the one who fell short being pissed off.
"And that's exactly what happened. I was honestly worried that we could lose Honda over this.
"But actually my biggest problem is that even though this series always gets criticized for the cars being spec - except the engines, obviously - I don't think the aerokits brought one more fan through the gates. The manufacturers and us spent a bunch of money running something that didn't help the series at all."
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