Pro-Shift PS3 gets a great review with USA race-teams

Datum: 30-10-2011
Following on from Pro-Shift's Chief Development Engineer Ian's recent PS3 testing trip to the USA, we have today received an excellent report from several of the drivers involved. Please read on to see what 2011 Star Mazda champion Tristan Vautier, Conor Daly and other well-known drivers thought of the Championship winning Paddle-shifter.

INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 30 — Four drivers and other members of several prominent Firestone Indy Lights teams made positive comments after getting a first-hand look at a new paddle-shift system that Team E Racing tested on its Firestone Indy Lights car last week.

Drivers Rusty Mitchell and Conor Daly tried the system out at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla., during a private test last Monday, Oct. 24.  Mitchell, Joel Miller and the 2011 Star Mazda champion, Tristan Vautier, also drove Team E's paddle-shift-equipped No. 17 during the Chris Griffis Memorial Test, which was held on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway here Friday and yesterday, Oct. 28-29.

A paddle-shift system utilizes two "paddles," or levers, mounted behind the steering wheel. With a paddle-shift system the driver can keep both hands on the steering wheel and use his fingers to upshift and downshift electronically with the paddles instead of taking his right hand off the steering wheel to move a traditional gear shift, which is usually mounted to the right of the seat and selects the gears in the transmission mechanically. With the system Team E tested last week, Pro-Shift's PS3 system, the right-hand paddle is used for upshifts and the left-hand paddle is used for downshifts. A solenoid and an auto blipper (downshift) are part of the bolt-on package too.

Neil Enerson, who owns Tampa Bay, Fla.-based Team E Racing, feels paddle shifters could save teams money. After the initial investment of about $9,000 for the system, he believes savings will occur because there will be less wear on gears and gearboxes with the paddle shifters. The drivers who tested the system said they like it because it makes the car easier to drive and safer, since it permits them to always have both hands on the steering wheel. Perhaps the biggest selling point, however, is it would step up the technology being used in Firestone Indy Lights to make it on par with many junior formula car series in Europe. Firestone Indy Lights, the top step on the Mazda Road to Indy, is the official development series of the IZOD IndyCar Series. Its primary purpose is to prepare drivers, mechanics and teams for IndyCar. Both the IZOD IndyCar Series and Formula 1 cars use paddle shifters. Enerson first used this particular paddle-shift system on his son R.C.'s Formula 1000 car.

Firestone Indy Lights officials granted Team E permission to test the system on its Firestone Indy Lights car so the team could demonstrate how it works and allow members of other teams who attended the Indianapolis test to examine it. The series will decide whether or not to adopt the system after the officials and team owners have a chance to discuss the subject further. "We think it's something that teams really need to move the series forward," Enerson said.  "The system is reliable and inexpensive, and we think it improves safety since the drivers can keep both hands on the steering wheel and focus more on the course.  The IZOD IndyCar Series already uses paddle shifters, and we hope that Firestone Indy Lights will decide to use them in 2012 too."

"I think it would be great!" said Bryan Herta of Bryan Herta Autosport, which has a Firestone Indy Lights team and also won the crown jewel of the IZOD IndyCar Series, the Indianapolis 500, this year. "I think we need it in the series," Herta said. "Formula 1 cars have paddle shifters; IndyCars have them. All the top-level formula car series use them and many junior formula car series in Europe use them. It's not new technology; even some street cars have them. "I applaud Neil Enerson and Team E for taking the lead in this and coming up with a system that might work for us and for doing the initial testing.  As a team, we're very much in favor of paddle shifters for Indy Lights."

Tim Neff, the technical director and co-owner of the most successful team in Firestone Indy Lights history, Sam Schmidt Motorsports, echoed Herta's enthusiasm. "We're keen on the idea of paddle shifters for Firestone Indy Lights," Neff said.  "We need to step up to the times.  We need to go the same route as the other formula car series. "There won't be a cost savings to owners at first due to the initial outlay, but over the long run there will be a cost savings to teams due to the increased reliability of the gearbox," Neff said.

Blair Perschbacher, an engineer on Andretti Autosports' Firestone Indy Lights team, said he thinks paddle shifters are a good idea for Firestone Indy Lights too. "It's something we need," Perschbacher said on Saturday. "Tristan [Vautier] drove it [Team E's car] yesterday and he thought it was real good. It brings our technology up to the level of some of the other junior series in Europe."

Eric Jensen, owner of Jensen MotorSport, said he thinks paddle shifters would make Firestone Indy Lights more attractive to drivers, especially those from Europe and South America. "There aren't enough kids from the U.S.A. and Canada with the budgets that allow them to come up to do this series, so we need to attract drivers from Europe and South America too," he said. "GP3, GP2 and the World Series by Renault all have paddle shifters.  We're behind the times in the ‘fun' factor. I don't see massive cost savings in gearbox wear, but there could be marketing value in it so drivers choose this series. "The World Series by Renault will have a new car in 2012 that is really nice," Jensen noted. "It looks like a little Formula 1 car, and it has paddle shifters."

The two-day test at Indianapolis featured all three steps on the Mazda Road to Indy. Mitchell, Vautier and Miller drove Team E's Firestone Indy Lights car on Friday, while Mitchell also drove in the Saturday morning session and Miller drove on Saturday afternoon too. Mitchell, who is sponsored by Motorola and Petro Communications, did 14 laps on Friday. He is from Midland, Texas. He drove on the oval here in the Firestone Freedom 100 in May but he was taking his first laps ever on IMS's 2.5134-mile, 13-turn road course. Vautier, who earned a scholarship from Mazda to advance to Firestone Indy Lights next year for winning this year's Star Mazda driver title, completed 23 laps on Friday. He is from Corence, France. Neither he nor Miller had ever driven at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before Friday. Miller, of Hisperia, Calif., completed 17 laps on Friday. Mitchell added another 15 laps on Saturday morning and Miller completed 27 laps Saturday afternoon.

Driver quotes follow:

Rusty Mitchell:  "I'm all for the paddle shifter.  It makes the car more fun to drive.  It doesn't cost much when you consider the whole budget you need to run in Firestone Indy Lights, and I think in the long run it makes sense for team owners."

"For those that are worried about how it would hold up on a bumpy course like Baltimore, all I can say is that we didn't have any problems with it at Sebring, and Sebring is pretty bumpy too."

Conor Daly: "First I want to thank Neil Enerson and his team for inviting me to take part in the [Sebring] test. They have done a great job with the paddle-shift system and it worked flawlessly. The biggest advantage to the system is that it allowed me to concentrate more on driving the car more precisely."

Tristan Vautier:  "It was great!  I already love this car.  I drove a Firestone Indy Lights car twice last year, and this was similar.  The paddle shift makes the car easier to drive, and it worked perfectly."

"Everything was very positive.  The car felt good.  I drove a car with a paddle shifter before in the World Series by Renault and in Formula 2 in Europe."

"A Firestone Indy Lights car is a little heavier than a Star Mazda car and it has more power. You get some wheel spin if you drive it like a Star Mazda car.  With a Firestone Indy Lights car you have to be more patient on the way you get back to power."

"I'm really looking forward to the Firestone Freedom 100 next year.  The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the track you want to drive in America. Even if I was going the opposite way today, it was great to drive here."

"I'm going to test a Firestone Indy Lights car with Andretti Autosport tomorrow all day.  I don't have any more tests lined up right now though."

"Team E did a great job.  We had zero issues with the car. I want to give a big thank you to Neil and the whole team."

"I had fun.  It was great and I have to thank them.  They were at Sebring on Monday and here today, which is a lot of traveling, but we had no issues."

Joel Miller: "This is the first time I've driven a Firestone Indy Lights car since St. Pete.  I'm 6'2 and Rusty and Tristan are shorter than me, so today we were able to change the pedals and do some other things that helped.  But we had an issue with the fuel pump this afternoon.  The alarm kept coming on, but we just pushed on through it.  We had some issues with the brakes today too.  I wish I could have gone faster.  I know I can get the job done, but when you really think about it I had about 50 minutes in the car for actual testing and some of the other drivers had a day and a half, so that explains some of it.  But I really have to thank Neil and Team E for letting me test here."

"As for the paddle shift, I think it's a brilliant device for this car.  It's a great upgrade from the driver's standpoint.  It brings the car up to the level of Europe's junior formula car series, and with IndyCar having paddle shifters I think Firestone Indy Lights should have them too.  It still requires driver finesse, but it makes it easier to hit your marks."

"With a Lights car you have to learn a different way of downshifting, but the paddle shift takes that out of the equation.  It's safer too, since you can keep both hands on the wheel."


Coureurs over Pro-Shift

"They have done a great job with the Paddle-shift system and it worked flawlessly. The biggest advantage to the system is that it allowed me to concentrate more on driving the car more precisely."

31-10-2011: Conor Daly
(Sebring, USA - Long Beach Indy Lights Winner)

"Thank you for the quick and professional service you provided!"

14-12-2011: Kushal Agarwal

"It was great! The paddle shift makes the car easier to drive, and it worked perfectly."

31-10-2011: Tristan Vautier
(Sebring, USA - 2011 Star Mazda Champion)

"The Systems are working great. We just ran the SCCA run offs. Lee (Alexander) sat on pole with the track record and the fastest lap turned at Road America for any SCCA class."

29-09-2011: Jeff Shafer
(Las Vegas, USA)

"The down shifting is quite amazing. We are delighted with the newly installed PS2 system and it's the first time we have run the car and managed to stay beyond practice all season. We would definitely recommend you and your system to anyone who comes our way.... Meer…

02-09-2011: Jonathan Gates

"We tried a pneumatic system initially but the results weren't very successful. The main problem was that the air canister wasn't sufficient. Because we're using a small-capacity, naturally aspirated engine without a lot of torque, we have to change gear a lot... Meer…

01-08-2011: Dick Kvetnansky

"Thanks for the PS3, absolutely fantastic, it's completely revolutionised the car! I thought the XTR2 was fun before but being able to change gear reliably and so fast, and without the clutch is superb. Drove my friend's Lamborghini Gallardo too and have to sa... Meer…

02-08-2011: Phill Barrett

"The test at Road Atlanta of the F1000 car went flawlessly. The PS3 system was awesome, no problems at all."

15-07-2011: Dave Metcalf

"I bought a complete PS3 System a year ago for my Speads RS10 race-car. It works like a dream!!"

03-07-2011: Willie Ras
(South Africa)

"I was instantly comfortable using the PS2  for both upshifts and downshifts, and quickly found myself  setting very competitive lap times using the paddles as though I'd never used anything else. Downshifting from 6th to 2nd in 90m was effortless, u... Meer…

14-06-2012: Tristan Cliffe

"The Paddle-Shift worked brilliantly and I am really happy with the installation. Once more thanks to you and Ian."

30-05-2011: Angelos Metaxa

"The Pro-Shift system was installed in our car in a big rush and without us having had any previous experience of it. Mainly due to a total distrust of the previous pneumatic system we were not sure if the Pro-Shift would be fine but we were 100% positive that... Meer…

23-05-2012: Dick Kvetnansky

"WOW WOW WOW!!!!! What a fabulous piece of kit. I ended up winning the race on my first ever time at Cadwell. What a fabulous circuit to race and even more enjoyable and fun to drive with the paddle-shift system. I would not have been so quick or felt in as mu... Meer…

23-05-2011: Dax Ward

"Pro-Shift Paddles are the best paddles on the market by far."

10-05-2011: Aaron Steer
(West Racecars - Australia)

"Wow! what a weekend, this bit of kit is amazing, I shaved 1 second round Brands and that was in traffic, did a 46.4, it's the best investment I've ever made and what's more it made me enjoy driving more. The ability to keep the car more balanced through corne... Meer…

03-05-2011: Marc Fortune

"The Pro-Shift is working flawlessly with the blipper solenoid."

29-03-2011: Bill Olders
(Comment on the latest Throttle Blipper - Ottawa)

"We had the Ascari M5 out for the first test day of the season on Monday, the Blip System works great, we installed the system off the firewall and on to the accelerator pedal. We are very happy with the unit."

17-02-2012: Darren Berry

"Thank you for sending Ian over to Sebring, he did a great job and went above and beyond what I expected. He has built our relationship with Pro-Shift to one that we are glad to have."

10-02-2011: Peter Huber
(Wilzig Racing - USA)

"Huge thanks for all the help Pro-Shift have given me, a fantastic job, well done to all at Pro-Shift!!"

19-08-2010: Richard MacDonald

"Driving the new Pro-Shift PS3 is both exhilarating and exciting and will definitely give us the winning edge in our Renault Megane. The top of the range technology supplied along with the ability for us to make system adjustments from our laptop all add to th... Meer…

18-08-2010: Smudo
(Singer/Celebrity and Bio-Concept Car Driver - Germ...)

"The bespoke Porsche 997 GT Cup Car Pro-Shift System has cut seconds off my lap times and is a pleasure to use. The track-side assistance given by Roy and the Pro-Shift team was second to none when they attended Hockenheim to complete the final testing and fin... Meer…

18-08-2010: Karsten Sachsenroeder
(Sachsenroeder Motorsport - Germany)

"We have been using our Pro-Shift to shorten lap times for 4 years. In addition to clean shifts it results in far less wear of gearbox dogs and shifter forks than manual shifting. Pro-Shift gives us a winning edge and their service quality exceeds my expectati... Meer…

02-08-2010: Bill Olders

"The PS3 shifts are seamless both up and down and will without a doubt shave seconds off my times at every track. It has exceeded my expectations in only its first weekend. You have succeeded in designing a cutting edge technology and delivering it to the Moto... Meer…

20-07-2010: Garrett Kletjian

"The gearbox internals look like new and no "swarf" on the plug which shows the Paddle-Shift engagement is spot on.... The  Pro-Shift System seems to be about the only part of the car we have not had a problem with - fitted and forgotten. As far as I can ... Meer…

24-05-2010: Dave Tennant
(Bitz Garage/Bitzmotorsport - Nairn)

"I have used the PS2 to break 2 track records this year at New Hampshire International Raceway and Virginia International."

30-04-2010: Garrett Kletjian

"I purchased a Pro-Shift System for my F1 Sidecar in 2007. We've never had 1 problem and I like it so much I've just bought a PS2 for my race car."

30-03-2012: Frank Riolo

"The System we installed is working great!"

18-02-2010: David Tame

"Your Pro-Shift System works flawlessly. I love it."

07-05-2009: Kent Baker

"The Pro-Shift works perfectly. The downshifts were so smooth I had to look at the gear indicator to see that the shift had actually occured. One happy guy says thanks."

02-05-2009: Bill Olders

"I was at Goodwood on Friday using your Paddle-Shift for the first time... it was b****y brilliant, it worked faultlessly all day and having driven a pneumatic system and yours back to back the Pro-Shift was far smoother."

01-09-2008: Barry Marks

"It's an absolutely fantastic System to use. We've had 4 years of trouble free running."

14-04-2012: Tim Anthill & Heath Lane

"We needed a boost to our World Championship campaign and the Pro-Shift provided us with that bit extra."

01-01-2002: Steve Abbott & Jamie Biggs

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