The first on-track appearance of the all-new universal Dallara aerodynamic kit will occur later this month.
After allowing engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda to provide their own chassis additions since 2015, everybody will have the same aero kit, which will be supplied by Dallara. Consequently, the noticeable differentiation between the power plant rivals will be eliminated.
The first test is set for July 25-26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with two-time Indy 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya and race veteran Oriol Servia handling the driving duties. Team Penske will oversee the Chevrolet entry, while Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will provide the Honda machine. To prevent the two squads from gaining an advantage on the rest of the 2018 full-time fleet, IndyCar officials will controls the setting on the cars.
Three other venues will further aid the development of next year’s race vehicle with Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Iowa Speedway hosting the designs in August, and Sebring International Raceway’s short course being utilized in September.
With neither pilot among full-time competitors this season, the availability to participate was in play, similar to the scenario that allowed the late Dan Wheldon to test the original Dallara DW12 chassis in 2011.
“If we can help in any small measure to have a great product in 2018, I’ll be honoured,” Servia said. “It’s great that IndyCar is doing it to make sure we have good racing. We want to help them accomplish what they want to accomplish.”
Montoya, who finished in the top ten at Indy this past May, feels the new car kit will not only lower costs, but could aid in the expansion of the full-time fleet. Currently, only 21 car-driver combinations have taken the green flag in every event contested in 2017.
“I think going back to one aero kit for both manufacturers is good for the sport.” explained the Colombian. “It opens the door to other companies to get interested in IndyCar again.”
On paper, the new design is expected to be lighter than the current 2017 version of the Dallara IndyCar chassis and provide additional downforce. The latter fact could further aid the series hopes to challenge the current track records at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which dates back to 1996.
The most noticeable change for fans will be the removal of the rear wheel guards at the back of the car, the first time they will not be on an IndyCar since the end of the 2011 season. Underneath the bodywork, the 2018 Dallara challenger will feature a heavier front half of the car, due to moving forward the radiators on the car and the addition of side-impact structures to further protect the driver.
It is unknown at this time when the new chassis will be delivered to teams for private testing in advance of the 2018 campaign.
FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MattEmbury
The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.