Both Oriol Servia and Juan Pablo Montoya felt positive after giving the 2018 Dallara Aero Kit its first run on Tuesday around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Servia tested a Honda-powered car prepared by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, while Montoya was in the Chevrolet-powered Team Penske car, although neither teams were in control of the data so not to give either any kind of advantage heading into the 2018 season.
It will be the same scenario when testing continues at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on 1 August, while further tests are planned at Iowa Speedway on 10 August and the Sebring International Raceway on 26 September.
Servia, who has run a part-schedule with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 2017 including the Indianapolis 500, felt the new Dallara kit, which comes in to replace both the Honda and Chevrolet kits that have graced the Verizon IndyCar Series in recent years, was strong straight out of the box.
“From Lap 1, it just felt at home,” said Servia. “The car felt great. I was flat on it out of the pits, which just says how good the car felt right away. I think it’s going to be a fast, good racer.
“Everything we had planned to do in two days, we already accomplished in the first day. We did lots of laps, long runs, and the car feels good. The car feels very benign.
“It just feels right and we’re not having any issues or moments out there. Very consistent. My second long run, I think, was one of my most consistent runs I’ve done at this track in all of my years.”
Montoya, who stepped down from a full-time drive with Penske at the end of 2016 in favour of a partial drive, which like Servia included the Indy 500, also felt positive about the day, with both drivers completing well over 100 laps of the 2.5-mile oval.
“It’s exciting because, for the first time in the car, it drives really, really well,” said Montoya. “I think they addressed a lot of the things and the car looks great.
“I think having one aero kit for everybody is great for the sport. The car looks good and it drives really good.”
Bill Pappas, IndyCar’s vice president of competition/race engineering who headed up the technical development of Dallara’s universal aero kit, admitted to being nervous about the first day on track for the new kit, but was happy that the data gathered on the day matched what was predicted in the wind tunnel and CFD (computational fluid dynamics).
“We were pleased,” said Pappas. “It matched up with our numbers that we predicted in the wind tunnel and CFD (computational fluid dynamics), so we were very happy for that.
“This is my first experience being part of a car being designed. Obviously, Dallara did a great job helping us, but you hold your breath until the first competitive laps are run.”