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Honda IndyCar teams seek aero kit's 'sweet spot' - Ryan Hunter-Reay

Ryan Hunter-Reay has conceded that Honda's IndyCar teams are still struggling to find the ideal operating window of its new aero kit, though he is confident it can catch Chevrolet

Honda currently leads Chevrolet in the manufacturers' standings due to a raft of penalties for unauthorised engine repairs issued to Chevy after the season-opener in St Petersburg.

However Chevrolet has dominated the results on-track over the opening four rounds: its drivers locked out the top six finishing positions in St Pete, and the top seven in Long Beach.

Schmidt Peterson driver James Hinchcliffe won for Honda in a rain-affected race at NOLA, but even there Chevrolet held the top six places on the starting grid.

Hunter-Reay believes that there is still potential to be unlocked in the Honda kit, but says that the teams have work ahead before they do so.

"It's a work in progress," said the Andretti Autosport driver.

"I'm not sure how much the Chevy will continue to develop.

"All the while we're trying to get that sweet spot with the Honda, the Chevy has also been being pushed forward, being developed by Penske, Ganassi...

"They certainly came out of the gate stronger than us, but we're making some inroads into what we know and what we think we want from the car, and in order to get the most out of it."

He said Chevrolet runner Helio Castroneves' (pictured below) Long Beach pole lap for Penske showed the difference between the two kits at present.

"Really it's the handling characteristics of the car that we're trying to nail down," said Hunter-Reay.

"You can see the [Chevy] car is very well balanced, the front is working, it's cornering well and it's putting the power down well.

"We don't have all the boxes checked off yet."

Both manufacturers were required to make tweaks to their kits deep in the design process after IndyCar introduced late regulation changes on safety grounds, and Hunter-Reay believes that some of the performance gap can be traced to Chevrolet being quicker to integrate those changes.

"Honda tweaked their aero kit very late in the process in reaction to some of IndyCar's rule changes," he said.

"Chevrolet did it sooner, Honda did it later, and by the time we had the completed package, we actually really never developed it on track, where Chevy had been testing on track long before we had our completed and homologated package together."

Honda's other big hope for breaching the gap to Chevy lies in the speedway kits, which will make their debut at the Indianapolis 500.

Both manufacturers have admitted to optimising their overall aero kit designs around Indy, however they are still yet to run against each other on the track.

"With the oval car, the downforce is achieved differently, the drag members are different, so it's a completely different subject," said Hunter-Reay.

"We could have the dominant oval package; we just don't know yet."

INDYCAR MANUFACTURER SPLIT

Honda teams: Andretti, Rahal, Schmidt, Foyt, Herta, Dale Coyne

Chevrolet teams: Ganassi, Penske, KV, CFH

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