INDIANAPOLIS – IndyCar continues testing and evaluation of three mechanisms that either independently or in unison could be utilized to reduce the incidence of Verizon IndyCar Series driver hand and wrist injuries.
James Hinchcliffe drove his No. 27 United Fiber & Data Andretti Autosport car with a steering damper fitted during a 20-car test July 24 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to gauge any handling and steering affects. In June, it was installed in the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing car driven by Charlie Kimball at Sebring (Fla.) Int’l Raceway during a test day for the same purposes.
The hydraulic damper is basically a shock absorber, which counteracts the transfer of energy to the driver’s hands in high G force-load impacts. It would work in concert with deformation of suspension parts, which disperses the energy. INDYCAR commissioned Dallara Automobili to design and build the damper, which initially was tested on its simulator in Italy.
“I think it’s important for IndyCar to continue the research and see what’s the best option,” said Ryan Briscoe, driver of the No. 8 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing car, who suffered a fractured wrist in a race incident at Toronto in July 2013. “I really love the fact that the Indy car does not have power steering because it separates it from other series. You have to be strong and fit to drive an Indy car. The steering damper might be the best option; you have wheel-to-wheel contact or impact (with concrete walls on some road/street circuits or the SAFER Barrier on ovals) and nothing bends on the race car and you feel all that shock comes through the steering wheel.”