IRL Engine Development Ongoing
February 3, 2009 | 3:40 P.M. EST
The progressive and industry groundbreaking engine specification planning process was introduced in May 2008 to bring about expanded engine manufacturers participation in the IndyCar Series beginning as early as the 2011 season.
Plans for introducing the new engine specifications, while maintaining the series' position as a leader in the use of ethanol bio-fuel, remain an ongoing process with unprecedented OEM and race engine designer input. Through this collective process, the IndyCar Series will continue to work with the aforementioned five automotive manufacturers and with six world-renowned specialty race engine design companies -- that are providing ongoing discussion and counsel -- in refining engine specifications that are expected to be finalized within the next several months, including:
· 4-stroke engines with reciprocating pistons
· Engine capacity will not exceed 2.0 liters
· Dual-overhead cam shaft with 4 valves per cylinder
· Single turbo charger systems will be permitted
· Direct injection systems will be permitted
· Continue the league's leadership position with the use of alternative fuels
· Engine life between rebuilds of 3,750 miles
· Five-year sealed engine homologation process that will define areas with possible annual updates
· Cost containment engine lease ceiling which is applicable to all participants
IndyCar Series' new engine architecture will align with the direction being taken by the automotive manufacturers around the world as they strive for more efficient and environmentally-responsible smaller displacement engines. The direction of these specifications will allow team participation in the series in a cost-effective manner while allowing the engine manufacturers flexibility in possibly up-tuning and/or down-tuning the engine for use in other forms of motorsports.
"The IndyCar Series has a history of pioneering new automotive technical innovations that are proved and refined under the scrutiny of millions of IndyCar fans in exciting on-track action by the world's best teams and drivers," said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body for the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights.
"The input we have received through the collective manufacturer roundtable process is very important and will be seriously considered by the IndyCar Series in determining its future engine platform."
During the past six months the IndyCar Series has conducted three high-level manufacturer roundtable meetings attended by senior executives from some of the world's leading and most prestigious automotive brands.
The format of the meetings was groundbreaking in that it was specifically designed to solicit open discussion among the attendees as to what the manufacturers' goals and desires were for motorsports involvement. The IndyCar Series' objective was to determine a common theme from the participants bridging motorsports with the mainstream automotive industry, showing consumers efficiency and performance technologies.
The ongoing Manufacturers Roundtable process initially attracted nine automotive companies for a closed-door, day and a half meeting in June at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well as six renowned race engine companies. The meetings also included Firestone, the exclusive tire supplier to the IndyCar Series, and Dallara, the provider of chassis, allowing each, who plays a critical role in the on-track product, input in the engine spec process.
The successful initial meeting led to follow-up, one-on-one meetings and then a second two-day Manufacturers Roundtable in September that was attended by Honda Performance Development, Audi, Fiat Powertrain Technologies, Porsche and Volkswagen. That meeting further refined a relevant technical foundation for the future of the IndyCar Series and led to a subsequent third meeting which was held in Germany just before Christmas.
"This process was designed to showcase the league's position as an innovator and bring relevance to the forefront for the manufacturers," said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division for the Indy Racing League. "What we have found in the ensuing months during the economic downturn is that the IndyCar Series has really hit on the relevance point with the manufacturers and quite possibly helped the motorsports industry usher in a new era of responsible cost containment,performance standard and engine development."
In addition to the engine specifications the IndyCar Series has also been investigating innovative ways to partner its teams with the manufacturers and anticipates confirming those plans in the near future.
The following are quotes from the five automotive companies integral to the IndyCar Series' ongoing progressive and unique Automotive Manufacturers Roundtable initiative:
"Honda charged our partner IndyCar to define a relevant global and sustainable platform that would be attractive to multiple automotive brands," said Erik Berkman, Honda Performance Development president. "We applaud the Series' responsiveness to our request, and look forward to actively participating in the Roundtable process moving forward."
"IndyCar's process of soliciting direct and unfiltered input from the automotive manufacturers has been a unique and refreshing approach," said Ulrich Baretzky, head of race and special engine for Audi.
"This is a responsible and realistic approach to all of motorsports and presents an opportunity to integrate it directly with consumer relevance."
FIAT POWERTRAIN TECHNOLOGIES
"IndyCar has done an extremely thorough job at examining all the future technical considerations that automotive brands are faced with," said Paolo Martinelli, vice president of Fiat Powertrain Technologies.
"Working in concert with my peers to help define the next generation of IndyCars has been an enlightening and productive process that will likely have positive connections to other global motorsports."
"The IndyCar Series is steeped in history and synonymous with automotive technical innovation," said Donatus Wichelhaus, head of engine development for Volkswagen Motorsport.
"The IndyCar Series has been proactive to take a global leadership role in defining an engine and technical platform that will further promote R&D development and innovation that will have positive effects on production-based consumer cars."
"Porsche has a long and successful history in various motorsports disciplines, including the Indianapolis 500," said Thomas Laudenbach, Porsche's head of motorsport development - powertrain.
"Our production-based cars, like our motorsports programs, are based upon performance and technical innovation. The IndyCar Series' Manufacturer Roundtable has brought a consensus approach between competing automotive brands that may also have possible connotations to other motorsport series around the globe. The IndyCar Series should be recognized for its positive approach to this important initiative."
"Thanks to IndyCar's Manufacturer Roundtable meetings the next generation of IndyCar will push the technical boundaries both on and off the track," said Andrea Toso, Dallara head of research and development - U.S. racing projects leader.
"Working tightly together with multiple engine manufacturers and the League has been and is invaluable to Dallara to design the exciting new chassis for IndyCar."
"IndyCar has long been an important product development tool for our company," said Al Speyer, executive director for Firestone Racing.
"IndyCar's technical platform will only increase its relevance to the racing fan and the general public."