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Honda Reveals Aggressive Road Course Aero Kit Design

Honda’s record at the Indianapolis 500 since the Verizon IndyCar Series moved to the Dallara DW12 chassis and turbocharged engines in 2012 has been rather impressive. Two wins from three attempts would leave any manufacturer feeling rather pleased. In the Drivers’ championship category, Honda has also been in command, taking two out of three victories since 2012, but the prize that matters most—the Manufacturers’ title—has been rather elusive.

The rival Chevy brand has claimed all three Manufacturers’ crowns during IndyCar’s new era, but with the introduction of aero kits for 2015, Honda, its Southern California-based competition arm Honda Performance Development, and key partners have dedicated countless hours to tip the Manufacturers’ battle in their favor.

Chevy and Honda have also been hard at work with updates on their 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 engines, yet with a newfound open development area with aerodynamics at their disposal, aero kits could be the deciding factor in which brand takes home all the hardware at the end of the season.

“The idea is that it is all about options,” said HPD vice president Steve Eriksen. “We’ve given teams options to tune the car to the conditions, to the drivers’ needs, to the track, to get the most out of it. It’s really going to be a fun and interesting year to learn about the creative ways that the teams run this car.”

By the looks of what Honda’s come up with, at least compared to the Bowtie Brigade, its drivers will have plenty of downforce on road courses and short ovals. The unveiling of its Speedway aero kit will take place prior to its first use at the Indy 500.

“We’ve definitely added downforce, and we’ve been able to increase grip,” said Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has done most of Honda’s aero kit test driving. “The biggest challenge for the teams is balancing that downforce because and making it friendly to work with. You would think it would be just as easy as putting on a front wing with a bunch of wickers on it and a bunch of elements and you would gain grip and tweak it from there, but it isn’t. It has been a pretty sophisticated process to get the car handling properly with all the added downforce.”

Priced at $75,000 in 2015, RHR is confident that aero kits will allow drivers to push harder and attack the corners with more vigor.

“I’ve really enjoyed being part of the development process, and I think with all that’s going into it, it’s going to make for a car that rewards more commitment,” he explained. “When you drive the car into the corner before, you were limited by a certain amount of front grip, a certain amount of rear grip, and even if the balance was there, you always had a compromise.

“You certainly will have a compromise now but it is going to allow a driver to tweak the package to his or her driving style, and if you can balance it and maximize it just right to where the aero kit works right, I think it’s going to allow the driver to really gain more time than ever. It’s going to allow the driver to really drive into the corner harder and be rewarded for it.”

Fans will get their first glimpse of the new aero kits next week at Barber Motorsports Park during IndyCar Spring Training, and on March 29, the first head-to-head race between Chevy and Honda with their new-for-2015 aero kits will set the stage for an interesting season where aerodynamic innovation should be the deciding factor in all the championships up for grabs.

 

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