Honda has yet to confirm its return to IndyCar in 2016, but that hasn’t stopped the manufacturer from trying new pieces for next year’s updated aero kit.
The team from Honda Performance Development and Andretti Autosport used Monday’s semi-private test at Wisconsin’s Road America circuit to evaluate second-generation components after media were allowed to cover the return of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe.
Dressed in camouflage (ABOVE), 2012 IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti lapped the 4.0-mile road course in their Dallara DW12-Hondas to test new components. One source reported Honda’s media-free afternoon session included the testing of new sidepods that looked nearly identical to those used by Chevy.
“We’re allowed, just like Chevrolet, to test concepts and ideas before we homologate those aero kit pieces, and we have a series of tests planned to find directions on what we want to use,” HPD vice president Steve Eriksen told RACER. “We’ll continue testing prototype pieces during the offseason.”
Per IndyCar’s aero kit rulebook, manufacturers are allowed to replace select pieces on the car for 2016. The majority involve oval aerodynamics, including new Speedway front wing main planes and end plates, new speedway rear wing end plates, and new Indy 500 rear wing main planes and end plates.
For road and street courses, minor updates to the front and rear wing components are permitted, and a new engine air intake is open for development.
Honda’s Southern California-based competition arm is also awaiting news from IndyCar on its request to employ Rule 9.3 which would allow them to re-homologate portions of its aero kit that are not included in the areas noted for 2016. Once that decision is received, Honda is expected to formalize its engine supply and aero kit plans going forward. The Chevy-style sidepods tested by Honda are not part of the 2016 updates, which hints at those pieces being part of Honda’s desired Rule 9.3 updates.
It’s understood supply agreements are in place with most of Honda’s existing teams, and based on the brand’s test yesterday, it’s clear they are proceeding under the assumption a new contract will be executed with IndyCar to remain in the series.