BARBER TEST UPDATE
INDYCAR: Barber Test Update, Tuesday
February 21, 2012
The 11 drivers completing the final day of testing at the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park road course were met with slightly warmer conditions on Tuesday, which ended with Ganassi Racing’s Graham Rahal posting the fastest lap of the day.
After the track dried from a quick spell of rain, teams got down to business, with Rahal’s 1:09.96-second lap around the 17-turn facility in his Dallara DW12-Honda also serving as the best of the two-day test.
Rahal’s time was shadowed by Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon, who turned a 1:10.07 at the end of the day while sampling Dario Franchitti’s sister Target car.
“We went out pretty early,” Rahal told SPEED.com. “It sprinkled a little bit around 9 a.m., but we were out by 10. We ran a little bit more today than we did yesterday, but that being said, we spent more time going through some big changes today. Overall, things are running really well and the Honda engine has been really good.
"The car has a lot of grip and there’s still a long way to go. The car’s impressive. Over the past couple years, the times I’m running now here are way quicker [based on using similar tires].”
As Rahal continues to establish himself within the Ganassi organization, his comfort level with the new car and the direction he and engineer Martin Pare are headed is also growing at an impressive rate.
“Everything went well,” he affirmed. “We’re making really good strides. We’re just trying to find what the car likes and what it doesn’t. We had a little bit of both today; we’re working hard and methodically on everything we’re doing.
“And I think we’re starting to figure the car out. It’s been tricky. You can kind of get it into the ballpark, but the fine tuning seems to be a bit harder. That’s the way it is and we’ve got to make the best of it, but I think we’re doing pretty good with everything right now.”
Just as teams found on Monday, the different soft and hard Firestone tire compounds being evaluated make direct comparisons between lap times a challenge. The general impression given by drivers was that the harder (and slower) Barber 2011 compound didn’t seem to suit the DW12, while the softer Motegi 2011 tires seemed to complement the car’s more nimble handling traits.
Based on driver feedback, it’s believed the Barber 2012 tires will be modeled off of the softer Motegi compound. In addition to tire testing, a new ECU software revision from McLaren also underwent calibration and development at Barber.