With his Indy 500-winning Bryan Herta Autosport team running the car, and 2012 Project Manager Tony Cotman and INDYCAR VP of Technology Will Phillips crafting the testing plans, the 2005 series champion was enthused after putting the IR12 through its paces on the 2.6-mile Indianapolis road course in early September, and again up last week during a solid two-day run on the tricky .875-mile oval at Iowa.
“We had a really good test at Indianapolis on the F1 track," he said. “We did 400 miles on the day, and that was really a success, I feel. Tony Cotman and Will Phillips have a very structured goal for each test, and they stick to it. They evaluate everything that happens before moving to the next step, and that kind of development process is just what the car needs."
A variety of issues limited the car’s running during its maiden outing at Mid-Ohio in August, but with a number of fixes made for the Indy road course test, Wheldon says the series chose to run hard, rather than take baby steps.
“We’ve been leaning on it for sure. When it comes to going for it, at this point we’re going relatively hard. You need to push so you can sort out its tendencies at the limit, and I’d think people know that’s the only place I’m comfortable driving. Overall, the car’s quite good. It reacts very nicely to changes, and, for me, it’s really fun to drive."
In road course trim, Wheldon says he feels the biggest handling difference between engine packages–the current 3.4-liter V8-powered Dallara IR07 and the 2.2-liter turbocharged V6-powered Dallara in the IR12.
“You notice the weight change–where the weight is located makes the car feel different. It’s nothing people don’t already know. Compared to the new motors, which are smaller and much more compact, the current [V8] motors are heavier, they’re higher and the center of gravity is obviously higher, too. That has changed physically in the new car, and where the weight is now, it makes the car handle differently. The smaller engine and the improvement to the weight distribution and center of gravity allows you to now attack on corner entry. You can’t really do that with the current car." More at SPEEDTV.com
[Editor's Note: The new car will be faster, but a GP2 or World Series by Renault car will smoke it, making fans think IndyCar is a support level series. And what's with those hideous sidepods? Nothing like turning off would-be new race fans.]