Herta, Hunter-Reay undecided over IndyCar cockpit protection

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Herta, Hunter-Reay undecided over IndyCar cockpit protection
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Jun 13, 2016, 3:01 PM

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Bryan Herta agree that cockpit safety should be a priority for IndyCar, but they remain uncertain that a halo or aeroscreen would have helped protect Josef Newgarden in his shunt yesterday.

Bryan Herta
Conor Daly, Dale Coyne Racing Honda and Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet in huge crash
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda
Race action
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet

While IndyCar's VP of competition and engineering Bill Pappas is aiming for IndyCars to be fitted with Red Bull F1-type aeroscreens in 2017 to better protect drivers, there are mixed views within the paddock as to whether any device would have helped Newgarden avoid injury at Texas.

Reigning champion Scott Dixon earlier this year told Motorsport.com he was impressed with the halo concept  albeit with reservations regarding its application on ovals.

But following Josef Newgarden's shunt in the interrupted and now postponed race at Texas Motor Speedway, neither Hunter-Reay nor Herta are certain whether an extra structural device around the cockpit would have been a help or a hindrance.

"First of all, let's be grateful that Josef is relatively OK," Herta told Motorsport.com. "That was really, really scary at that speed and that angle.

"I think constant safety improvements are a good thing, but I'd need to look at the shunt more closely to decide whether a halo would have helped in those circumstances or not.

"But I don't think there's anything wrong with trying to protect these guys, and trying to protect their heads."

Asked if he had any objections on purist grounds of trying to retain open cockpits, Herta scoffed: "If racing progress through the ages had been decided simply on purist grounds, these guys would have no seatbelts and still be wearing leather helmets."

Said Andretti Autosport ace Hunter-Reay: "I need to check the details [of Newgarden's shunt], but my understanding is that even the rollhoop on Josef's car was compromised, and if that's compromised then a halo structure would be compromised… and that comes into the cockpit.

"I don't know. There's a lot of information that we all need to understand first but I'd be worried that something not as robust as the actual rollhoop would fail in that situation.

"Whatever will help safety, absolutely we should do it. But I was just talking to [Newgarden's team owner] Ed Carpenter about this. If the rollhoop can fail, how would a less structurally sound device cope in those circumstances?"

 

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