It seems GM Racing's decision to return to Indycar racing in 2012 has opened up a bit of a floodgate in terms of new engine manufacturers...........
Car manufacturer Lotus is set to play a large role in the future of the Izod IndyCar Series. Multiple sources confirmed to AutoWeek on Wednesday that Lotus will go head-to-head in the engine war against Honda and Chevrolet and will badge V6s when IndyCar debuts its new chassis and engine package in 2012.
The news comes as a bit of a surprise after series CEO Randy Bernard on Tuesday said he did not expect to have a third engine supplier for the 2012 season. The deadline for engine makers to sign up for 2012 was midnight on Nov. 17, and it appears that Lotus pulled the trigger at the last possible moment. This is the same Malaysian-backed group that currently disputes Formula One team Lotus Racing’s right to use the name “Lotus” in competition.
A formal announcement is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at the Los Angeles auto show. Lotus will join Honda and Chevrolet as participating auto manufacturers, giving the sport the competition that it has so desperately lacked since Chevrolet and Toyota quit the series after the 2005 season, leaving Honda as IndyCar’s sole supplier.
It is unclear which company will build the Lotus engines, but Cosworth is the most likely choice, given its technical alliance with parent company Group Lotus. Ilmor will build the Chevrolets; Honda Performance Development will build its own twin-turbo V6s.
Lotus previously announced plans to design and supply aerodynamic kits for the new Dallara chassis. Dallara will build its chassis in a new factory yet to be constructed outside Indianapolis in Speedway, Ind. The Lotus Group already stuck a toe back into the IndyCar water when it joined KV Racing Technology to sponsor the car of series rookie Takuma Sato in 2010.
KV co-owner and 1996 CART World Series champion Jimmy Vasser said recently that the team will be rebranded as Lotus/KV next year.
Team Penske will use Chevrolet power when the new engine arrives, but the rest of IndyCar’s teams are yet to make their choice. They now have one more option.