Bryan Herta Autosport chooses Honda as new engine
Bryan Herta will try to win this year’s Indianapolis 500 with
the same engine that took him to Victory Lane last year –
A little more than two weeks after Herta’s team was released
from its contract with engine-manufacturer Lotus, Bryan Herta
Autosport announced it would use Honda engines for the rest of this
season. The move comes two days before practice opens for the 500
and a little more than two weeks before the May 27 race.
”My time as a Honda driver in both the IndyCar Series, as well
as the time spent driving factory Acura LMP2 in the American Le
Mans Series, were among my most rewarding and memorable years in
racing,” Herta said. ”So it is with great personal pleasure that
we are returning to the Honda family for the remainder of the 2012
The move revved up hope among team members that they can defend
the 500 title after a slow start in 2012.
Problems had been mounting for Herta and Lotus.
Driver Alex Tagliani failed to complete a lap at Alabama because
of a bad throttle, then dropped out after completing only 46 of 85
laps at Long Beach because the engine overheated. The team then
skipped Sao Paulo as it shopped for a new engine-manufacturer.
Tagliani’s best finish this season was 15th in the season-opener at
While the Honda engines have been more competitive than those
from Lotus, Chevrolet has dominated the early-season results. Roger
Penske’s team has driven Chevy to wins in each of the first four
races this season.
But Honda will now have 15 cars trying to make the 33-car Indy
field, including Tagliani’s No. 98 car. The late Dan Wheldon drove
that number into Victory Lane for Herta last season after passing
race leader JR Hildebrand in the front straightaway. Hildebrand
crashed on the final turn of the last lap. Wheldon was killed in
October in a crash at Las Vegas.
”We’re pleased to be able to renew our relationship with Bryan
Herta and his team,” said Steve Eriksen, vice president of Honda
Performance Development. ”His team’s victory in the 2011
Indianapolis 500 was the stuff of legend, and all of us at HPD and
American Honda are delighted to have a hand in helping him defend
It’s also another setback for a Lotus team that has struggled
mightily all season.
After getting a later start than its two competitors and
producing sub-par results, teams that had been complaining started
Lotus released Herta’s team and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
from their contracts April 24, and now it’s facing a lawsuit from
Dragon Racing, which is owned by Penske’s son, Jay. The filing
seeks $4.6 million, claiming Lotus has damaged the reputation of
the two-car team that features drivers Sebastien Bourdais of France
and Katherine Legge of England.
As Jay Penske looks for new engines, Legge, a rookie, was not
expected to attempt passing her rookie test Thursday like the other
seven first-time Indy drivers.
The departure of all three teams leaves Lotus with only two
drivers using its engines to qualify for the 500 – Switzerland’s
Simona De Silvestro, who works for the one-car team of HVM Racing,
and Jean Alesi, who was just added to run with the new Fan Force
United team this week.
A Lotus spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email from
The Associated Press seeking comment.