The 2012 IndyCar Sequence champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner joined Crew Penske’s 2016 champion and 2019 Indy 500 victor Simon Pagenaud on the 2.38-mile street course close to Leeds, AL, for the primary check of the Pink Bull Utilized Applied sciences-developed aeroscreen on a street course.
Hunter-Reay stated that the display screen didn’t trigger a difficulty visibility-wise at the wide range of corners across the monitor, as his Andretti Autosport-Honda turned “about three-quarters of a race distance” on the 16-turn facility, though he admitted it took some time to develop accustomed to the dearth of airflow-generated sensations.
“It was truly actually good,” Hunter-Reay instructed Motorsport.com. “The match and software of the machine was fairly spectacular and I believe IndyCar, Pink Bull, PPG and all their companions did a extremely good job with it. Now it’s simply working across the little issues that want finding out.
“From a driver’s perspective, it took a while to get used to. After racing single-seaters since I used to be 16 years previous, having airflow in your helmet along side all the opposite sensory inputs you take in has develop into part of the expertise of driving one in every of a majority of these automotive. So it took a short while to get used to not feeling or listening to that.
“The visible distortion wasn’t a difficulty. It’s like when IndyCar put the AFP [advanced frontal protection] machine in entrance of us in Might, it took a short while to get used to. Similar with this display screen, however by the top of the day you had been completely fantastic with it. The tear-offs made a distinction, however not more than you’d count on. Like, once I put lots of tear-offs on my helmet, you get just a little warping and distortion simply since you’re successfully making what you’re wanting by a bit thicker.
“Effectively, similar right here: if you happen to run an entire lot of tear-offs on this, then you definitely’ll count on the identical factor, and once I requested to halve the quantity, that improved it. However from the imaginative and prescient perspective, actually, the distinction by having an aeroscreen was minimal, I’d say.
“We additionally ran within the rain and that was OK too, though there was no site visitors as a result of we had been meant to run with Simon and he had an engine situation on the time.”
Hunter-Reay says that the wraparound nature of the display screen meant that airflow to the driving force was presently closely compromised and that IndyCar was already on the case about altering that.
“It was in all probability low-to mid 70s however excessive humidity, and it wasn’t temperature within the automotive that was the difficulty however extra airflow to the driving force’s helmet. We labored by lots of completely different choices and located some good ones to go ahead with, but it surely’s a piece in progress. IndyCar has lots of finding out to do by way of inlets, cooling vents, areas, NACA ducts and tubes to finally use, however I believe we had been in a position to make a significant contribution to that.
“The difficulty is that our helmets are designed to take 230mph airspeed and distribute that airflow all the way down to our face and round our head. Whenever you then encompass that helmet with an aeroscreen, you’ll be able to put little ducts and inlets on the helmet however you’re not penetrating that helmet with air until you open your visor.
“So for the time being you’ll be able to really feel the ducts directing air to your firesuit on the center of your physique and whilst excessive as your neck, however getting up into the helmet, and round your nostril and mouth was what we had been experimenting with – that’s what felt like essentially the most stagnant space to me. However we made some good good points later within the day utilizing a hose association, virtually like a helmet blower setup.
Dealing with adjustments masked by monitor resurfacing
The impact of the revised weight distribution of every IndyCar, brought on by the 50lb (approximate) addition of the aeroscreen close to the entrance axle, was not quantifiable as a result of Barber Motorsport Park resurfacing for the reason that NTT IndyCar Sequence raced there in April.
“Sadly with it being our first check with the aeroscreen and in addition our first check on the repave, we had two variables,” defined Hunter-Reay. “So sure, I had a special steadiness at this time, however was that due to the brand new weight distribution? Was it the brand new monitor floor? They instructed me that for the reason that new asphalt went down they’ve solely had street automobiles and bikes on monitor, so there’s been no rubber laid down, there’s been no rain – till at this time, paradoxically! – to actually wash and climate the floor… It was very, very inexperienced.
“I suppose I’d say the automotive felt prefer it did have a better C of G, there was just a little extra roll within the turns, however I wouldn’t need to draw any extra conclusions than that.
“Additionally, it was a check for Firestone, so we ran final yr’s compound, after which lots of experimental tires, too. When it got here to the lengthy runs, we did about three-quarters of a race distance.
Aeroscreen the “proper strategy to go”
Hunter-Reay, who over the course of his profession has had a number of near-misses by way of international objects threatening the cockpit space of his automotive, stated he’s very a lot satisfied by the general idea of the RBAT aeroscreen.
“Yeah, I believe it’s positively the best strategy to go,” he commented. “IndyCar’s been on the forefront of driver security and racing security for years and that is one other step in the best course.
“Clearly, that is how we work by issues – begin off with an amazing product as a result of they’ve executed an amazing job designing, and now we have to put it to the check, tweaking it, make the best adjustments and making it raceable on a street course, avenue course, quick oval and superspeedway.
“There’s lots of work to do on that aspect of it however I believe the start line is sweet and I’m definitely a fan of getting my head protected for the primary time in my open-wheel profession. I’ve had greater than my justifiable share of near-misses in that regard so I’m positively happy that we’re taking a step – an enormous step – in defending our heads.”
Picture by: Ray Gosselin