A full-scale two-day wind tunnel test in North Carolina has given the best indication yet that chassis manufacturer Dallara is making serious progress on the teething problems that have plagued the new DW12 during testing on oval circuits.
Using a 2011 Target Chip Ganassi chassis in qualification setup as a guideline reference, the new car was able to reach 225mph with a recalibrated aero setup along with some additional aero development parts while running at 575 horsepower, which – while not the maximum engine power output – provided engineers with a good indication of the results they are seeking.
This season, the series will be running 2.2-litre V6 twin-turbocharged engines supplied by Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus.
It has been little secret that the new car, named after the late Dan Wheldon, was considerably slower on oval circuits, sometimes up to 15mph off the pace of the old car and suffered from a number of chronic balance issues and poor aerodynamic performance.
During track testing at Indianapolis In November last year, drivers Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan both agreed the car was nearly undriveable at some points, complaining of poor weight management in the rear of the car.
|JR Hildebrand, Panther Racing||Tony Kanaan, KV Racing|
|Simona de Silvestro, HVM Racing||Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport|
In contrast, the new car has proven to be quicker on road courses, with testing at Palm Beach and Sebring in Florida delivering vastly different results.
For all of the teams, the pre-season test will prove crucial to getting a base setup sorted before the season gets underway, while teams running the new engines – particularly those from Chevrolet and Lotus (the latter being late to arrive) – will need as much track mileage as possible.
With the next batch of DW12 chassis being delivered by Dallara in the past two days, the key is to continue testing programs to ensure the car is ready for the first race of the season in St Petersburg, Florida on March 25.
[Article by Matt Lennon; images via LAT]