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HPD Indiana Tech Center brings DIL Simulator closer to its clientele

May 23, 2013

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Since 2007 Honda drivers that wanted to practice their craft outside a Honda or Acura racing vehicle had to travel to the UK to use Wirth Research’s DIL (driver-in-the-loop) simulator, built in partnership with Honda Performance Development (HPD). It was an expensive proposition and Honda realized it might be more cost effective to bring the sim to the USA where the bulk of its clientele works and lives.

Therefore, the most recent iteration of the DIL simulator, developed and constructed last year by Nick Wirth’s team was packed into boxes and sent to Brownsburg, IN where HPD leased office space for its Indiana Tech Center. Negotiations with landlord John Force Racing began late last year and an agreement became reality at the start of the calendar year.

At the time the offices included a bare-face rear entry, so the simulator could be brought in and the walls built once it was in place. The offices were completed in early April and build-up of the sim began. HPD had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Indiana Tech Center on May 22 and showed off the driver tool, with Scott Dixon of Target Ganassi Racing and Simon Pagenaud of HP Schmidt Hamilton Racing doing the driving honors.
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“Because [setup] changes can be done so quickly, the DIL simulator allows you to run through many more [chassis geometry and track condition] changes than you could perform with an actual race car,” notes Gil de Ferran, former Honda/Acura driver/team owner who is now a technical consultant to HPD. “It also allows you to perform experiments that would be completely impractical – or highly expensive – on an actual race car.”

The original uses of the simulator were for sports car racing, so many of the 15 tracks in use are integral to ALMS and WEC, including The Sarthe circuit at Le Mans. HPD has put Indianapolis Motor Speedway software on the machine and will be adding many differing circuits as the program ramps up.

“This is a development tool that will bring benefits to all of our motorsports activities,” Steve Eriksen, HPD vice president and COO said, “through a focus on total vehicle performance encompassing both engine and chassis.”
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The DIL simulator at HPD’s Indiana Tech Center is not intended strictly for Honda’s teams and athletes to use. HPD is offering in-house engineering support for drivers and teams using the simulator and customized simulations can be established to meet specific needs of each user.

Words and Photos By Anne Proffit

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