Engine change gets Scott Dixon revved up for 2017 IndyCar campaign
Scott Dixon is hoping his team's decision to change engine manufacturers can help land him a fifth IndyCar title.
Chip Ganassi Racing are returning to Honda after three years with Chevrolet.
Before going to Chevy in 2014, Ganassi had partnered with Honda for eight successful seasons that included five championships – Dario Franchitti in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and Dixon in 2008 and 2013, reported IndyCar.com as testing got under way.
The three seasons with Chevy weren't quite as successful.
Dixon managed to win the championship in 2015, but the team won just eight of 50 races during that time while rival Team Penske (also running with Chevy) won the other two championships and 18 of the 50 races.
Dixon's initial IndyCar title in 2003 was achieved with a Toyota engine.
Dixon says the challenge now is to get things running smoothly in time for the start of the 2017 campaign.
"The manufacturers are definitely different," Dixon told IndyCar.com.
"The Chevrolet was more of a turnkey operation, but with the Honda we can be more embedded with the development and areas for improvement as a team.
"I see it more as a group movement in direction, but it's extremely tough right now with the timing. We've been with the same manufacturer for some time now, and you see the change that has gone on. It's all plateaued, so we're the only one on a steep learning curve."
The added complication now is the aero kits, as Dixon's team mate Tony Kanaan explained.
"All the numbers and knowledge we gained from using one manufacturer are gone. We're starting over and learning everything again. It is a big challenge for us and a big change for us," Kanaan said.
"Just a simple change in engines would've been fairly simple in terms of data. We'd know almost immediately where and when we'd have a difference in power compared to the previous engine. But with an engine and aero change, now you're looking at front wings, rear wings, aero data – everything. The setups are not the same. We're starting from scratch."
Team owner Chip Ganassi is excited at what's in store.
"I just think Honda looks to me like they've got the bit between their teeth about wanting to do well in IndyCar racing, and I want to be a part of that," he said.
"We have had a good relationship with Honda from the past. I am kind of excited about the opportunity with them. I didn't know they'd be, should I say aggressive toward a team like ours. I was kind of surprised."