While most would regard the reunification of open-wheel racing in America as a positive thing, it has been tough on some of the drivers that had come to dominate the Champ Car World Series. Essentially dumped into a field of IndyCar drivers, even the most accomplished Champ Car pilots have had trouble finding a ride.
Honda Performance Development will continue its involvement in IndyCar through the 2012 season when new engine and chassis rules take effect. The current, normally aspirated 3.5-liter V8s will be replaced after the 2011 season with smaller displacement and lower cost units that are limited to 2.4-liters. Honda announced this weekend at the Mid-Ohio race that it will produce a new twin-turbocharged 2.4-liter V6 available for lease at a price 40-percent below the current engine's price.
Lotus is back in IndyCars, and it's there to stay. After launching its own F1 team (in name, anyway) and announcing its intentions to expand further into other forms of motorsport, the legendary British firm revealed its sponsorship – together with engine partner Cosworth – of one of KV Racing's cars in the IndyCar Series, which former F1 driver Takuma Sato has been piloting (with limited success) this season.
2010 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – Click above for huge high-res image gallery
Lotus Cosworth KV Racing IndyCar rendering – Click above for high-res image gallery
Click on Helio Castroneves for a high res gallery
The IndyCar series is due to adopt new engine rules soon and it looks like they will follow the lead of many manufacturers toward downsized and turbocharged engines. The open-wheeled racers that run at the Indianapolis 500 and many other tracks currently use a normally aspirated 3.0L V8 running on straight ethanol. A new engine formula is expected to go into effect for the 2011 season with a switch to turbo engines with either four or six cylinders.
Honda is now in its third season as the sole supplier of engines for the IndyCar series, and it has decided to re-up for another five years. Honda originally jumped into IndyCar from the now-departed Champ Cars in 2003, and at that time, the H was still competing with Toyota and General Motors. The other two manufacturers eventually dropped out, leaving Honda to supply the whole field. Honda's new committment isn't an exclusive deal. The Indy Racing League is holding a roundtable summit in India
Just as the Indy Racing League has already done, the World Touring Car Championship has decided to make the switch to biofuels starting in 2009. As a matter of fact, for the 2008 year, teams will be allowed to use ethanol and diesel fuels in addition to standard unleaded gasoline. This article quotes Jacques Behar, chairman and CEO of championship promoter KSO as saying, "Alternative fuels will play a major role in motorsport's future and it is our goal to be at the forefront of this technology.
The drivers' performance was competitive against Scott Dixon and Vitor Meira who ran on the 2006 mixture of 10% ethanol and 90% methanol; all drivers clocking comparable lap times.