The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is an integral part of motorsport history. Built in 1909, the circuit is the epitome of speed pure and simple. And at this temple of speed, the drivers will find themselves coping with conditions they have never yet attempted. The 2.5 mile rectangle has its straights only slightly punctuated by fast, banked curves. Each car and driver will have to be in perfect harmony to handle the speed and power of the engine as the drivers make their six laps around the original Speedway.
Wright’s Home Race – All eyes are on Wright this weekend as the teams travel to Indianapolis for the first time in history. With Wright’s development factory just down the road from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, this is their home race and they’ve been putting in extra time over the last few weeks making sure they get everything right. Will they be able to put on an excellent show for the home fans?
Indianapolis Preparations Underway – The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is unique on the Formula D calendar as the first and only oval the teams have ever raced. As such, there are special considerations that the teams must contemplate. A definitive lap count has yet to be established, though most of the teams are leaning towards six. With an increased lap count, perks are another topic of discussion, particularly ones that recharge by lap. The teams plan to meet prior to the race to discuss the situation and decide definitively how to approach this track.
The North American leg of this season has not been an easy one. Each race has been a washout, and retirements have been striking hard and fast to the teams that need points the most. At Montreal, two chance retirements reversed Nergal’s fortunes, gifting them the lead in both the Drivers and Constructors Championships. Now the teams travel to Indianapolis, one of the most famous circuits in the world, and Wright’s hometown. As the teams prepare for this race, which along with Monaco is considered part of the Triple Crown of Motorsport, the baggage of their previous races weighs heavily on their minds. There isn’t much left to the season, and with Nergal eager to carry their lead through the last four races, Centurion and L’equipe Duchamp are within pouncing distance. Will the lead change hands again after this race? Find out as the Grand Prix of Indianapolis begins.
Practice Sessions Run, Test Sessions CancelledOn Saturday, the teams and drivers went out and did a few laps around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Their primary goal was to determine the number of laps to race, and the teams unanimously agreed that six laps would be the best. “Driving two laps around Indy is just about the same amount of time as doing a lap around a road course,” current Driver Championship leader Leonard McGee said after the trials. “Doing an oval is different, though. Top speed is key, and besides that it’s a lot of fun.”
Another issue that the teams discussed was the matter of safety. Because of the extreme speeds of the circuit, safety was the main priority. The teams decided that if three pieces of debris were on the track, or if a car retires on track, a safety car will be deployed, and the cars will do a single file restart at the starting line in 4th gear. “At these speeds, we can’t afford to take any chances,” Wright team principal Chuck Houston stated.
The other big news of the weekend was the cancellation of the scheduled gearbox tests for next season. Alexandria Fressange, chief technical officer at Nergal, explained, “With so much else on our plates this weekend, we just couldn’t find the time. The test will probably be delayed until the end of this season at least. With the championship this close, there’s just not a lot else we can do right now.”
Tires, Engine Providers Renew Contracts
With the end of the season only a few races away, all four teams were able to sit down and renegotiate the terms for the third season of the Formula D World Championship. Both Centurion and Reine plan on supplying engines to the teams through the third season, and while specific team contracts have not been signed, it is unlikely that any specific team will switch their providers. Latic Tires will continue to supply their rubber for all four teams, with new compounds already in the works for next season. “We’re hoping to challenge the drivers in new ways,” a Latic representative stated. “The wear rates should be similar to what we saw this year, but the tires will respond differently to track temperature and condition. Furthermore, the Options will be slightly more resilient, but not so much so that the drivers should feel overconfident. It’ll definitely be a new ball game.”
Teams Preparing for Late Season Testing
With the Grand Prix of Indianapolis rapidly approaching, the teams are preparing for a wild ride into the end of the second season. However, they do have one major obstacle to overcome first–testing brand new components for the third season. Before Indianapolis is set to begin, the teams will be doing laps around the famed circuit using prototype gearboxes. “We’ve tried to develop something more resilient for the coming season,” a representative from the Centurion-Koenig GP Racing team said earlier in the week. “The new gearboxes should last longer in theory, but they’re still very susceptible to stress and repeated use. Plus, when they’ve failed, your car is pretty much done, so it’s a tradeoff. You get stronger, longer lasting gearboxes that will keep you in the race much longer, but will end your race if they fail completely. We’re not sure that they will work how we want them to yet, though, so we’re hoping running them out on the track will give us a better idea.”
Nergal Celebrates Luck, Win
While Leonard McGee’s win was decisive–the driver commanded the race from the first lap–their fortune was somewhat more unexpected. With Deryl Caughlin and Cory Sylvester retiring on the last lap of the race, it gave Leonard a clear shot at taking over the Drivers Championship, with the win and McJergens’ podium pushing the team into the lead in the Constructor’s Championship as well. “We’re really pleased that we won the race,” team principal Jim Robinson said in a post-race interview, “but we’re not going to claim that our taking over the championship leads is anything more than luck. I’m not sure where we’d be if Caughlin or Sylvester had finished the race, but our position would definitely not be as dominant. Sometimes you just have to work with what you’re dealt, and we were handed a pretty good situation. Now we have to parlay that into a championship winning season.”
Wright Prepares for Home Race
While every team has been trying to make sure their cars and drivers are in top condition for the season finale, Wright has been doing everything they can to make sure that their race in Indianapolis goes off without a hitch. “We’re always gunning for a win,” team principal Chuck Houston stated on Wednesday, “but this is our home turf. We’ve gotta make this look good.” Houston has been battling critics due to the yo-yoing of his team ever since new drivers Andres Castillo and Hossein Esfandiari took over before Monza. However, he and the rest of the team stand by their decision and expect the young drivers to wow everyone at Indianapolis.
The teams return once again to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the second Canadian Grand Prix. Many of the drivers are familiar with the circuit, but that may not be enough. With the winding turns through sector one and the high speed straights through sector three, there is no sweet spot that the cars and drivers can hit. They have to be ready for anything in Canada, including the weather. Continue reading