Motorsport: Dixon braces for teething troubles after engine shift

By Dale Budge

Scott Dixon was unhappy at finishing sixth in this year's IndyCar championship. Photo / AP
Scott Dixon was unhappy at finishing sixth in this year's IndyCar championship. Photo / AP

Kiwi IndyCar driver Scott Dixon is expecting a tough start to his 2017 year with his Chip Ganassi team making a switch of engine supplier this off-season.

The team has used Chevrolet engines since 2014 but will move back to Honda, who they had previously had a long-standing relationship with.

Dixon, who finished a disappointing sixth in this year's championship, admits they will need to temper expectations early in the season.

"It will be a very steep learning curve for us just for the sheer fact most of the other teams have stayed stagnant for the last two years and we are the only ones that are shifting," the 36-year-old said. "We'll be on the back foot for a little bit.

"I think Foyt is the only other one that has made a move and that is from Honda back to Chevy."

While there will obviously be an impact in the short term as they iron out issues and find the best way of doing things, Dixon can see a lot of upside to the move to the Japanese manufacturer.

"The Chevy programme seems to be very plug and play -- it is like you turn up with the key and away you go whereas Honda is more of an involvement and more use of the resources we have as a team. I think is a good fit for us because we can direct things in a way that we want.

"It is just how quick we hit the ground running.

"In some areas the package is very strong but in others it isn't very strong at all. The focus will be on cleaning up the areas that we think we can improve on the most."

Having won the championship in 2015 -- a fourth in his illustrious IndyCar career -- Dixon was disappointed to finish a distant sixth this year but after analysing where it all went wrong he said it was a perfect storm of factors that cost him a chance at back-to-back titles.

"We had a very strong year but we had lots of silly mistakes and lots of opportunities missed. There are three or four races that we could have won -- mechanical issues at Road America, St Petersburg with the over-heating, Toronto with the strategy -- those things happen but not to the extent that it did this year."

So despite the change in engine supplier Dixon expects to be fighting for race wins from the outset and his outlook for 2017 is no different to any other year in his career.

"Our expectation is still the same -- we go in wanting to win the championship. That will never change with this team.

"I'm sure the first few races will be tough and demanding and we might have some issues here or there but the work is already in progress so hopefully it transfers quickly."

- NZ Herald

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