Lotus to build engines, cars in IndyCar series
The business of supplying engines to IndyCar is starting to get crowded.
The series announced Thursday that Lotus will join Honda and Chevrolet as an engine manufacturer when IndyCar unveils its new car design in 2012.
The England-based company will also produce aerodynamic kits for KV Racing Technology. Engine specifics and the number of cars Lotus will produce engines for was not immediately available.
However, the addition of a third manufacturer gives the series another boost as it tries to rebrand itself.
''It's very important for us to set up the foundation that allows us to succeed,'' IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said. ''We've listened to what's important.''
Lotus is well-versed in racing and has ties to the series. The company served as a sponsor for the No. 5 car driven by Takuma Sato this season, and driver Jim Clark used a Lotus chassis when he won the 1965 Indy 500.
Lotus will provide both engine and aerodynamic kits for KV.
''We take racing seriously and we don't just want to put a sticker on a car that we didn't have the influence to help build,'' Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said. ''We want to compete with the big guys.''
Lotus just beat the Nov. 16 cutoff to get on board for the 2012 season. Bernard admitted the engine package was a surprise development.
''We never felt it was going to be an engine up until a couple weeks ago,'' he said. ''They didn't feel they were going to be able to get it.''
Honda had been the sole provider of engines and Dallara the chassis, but IndyCar's new ICONIC committee voted earlier this year to open both platforms up to competition.
The new engine platform, announced in June, called for the ethanol-fueled engines to be up to six cylinders, allow for turbocharging and produce between 550 and 700 horsepower, depending on the type of course the series is racing. The current engines are eight cylinders and produce about 650 horsepower.
In July, IndyCar announced Dallara will produce the new chassis for 2012 after accepting designs from five manufacturers. It also allowed for multiple manufacturers to develop aero kits for the new chassis.
The changes were designed to cut costs while creating competition among the teams and, hopefully, more interest from the fans.
Lotus has raced in a wide variety of series through the years, including Formula One and Le Mans. Bahar said the return to IndyCar ''fits perfectly our activities and strategy'' when it comes to having a larger U.S.-presence.
''We're going to be the underdog, we're going to fight Chevy and Honda,'' he said.