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Biofuel OK’d For Use In ALMS

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, March 15 2010
The American Le Mans Series has approved use of a new fuel. The Dyson team will use it. (Photo courtesy of the American Le Mans Series)

The American Le Mans Series has approved use of a new fuel. The Dyson team will use it. (Photo courtesy of the American Le Mans Series)

By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

An isobutanol blend of BP has been approved for official use in the American Le Mans Series, where the Dyson Racing team intends to campaign the season while competing for the LMP championship in a Lola-Mazda using the biofuel.

The racing application is in advance of plans by BP and DuPont to develop commercial facilities under the Butamax name to manufacture isobutanol for mainsteam use. A racing version of isobutanol and ethanol was used in two demonstration races last year to power the Lola-Mazda team of Dyson Racing, a factory-supported Mazda team where energy company BP is a major sponsor.

Last year, the Dyson team’s Lola-Mazda finished ahead of all other LMP2 class competitors at the Petit Le Mans using the biofuel, but was denied any victory laurels due to its demonstration status. With the official status of the BP product as a fuel supplier, the Dyson team will campaign a single entry for victories and points against the Acura entry of Hichcroft Racing, among others, during the 2010 season, which begins with the Mobil 1 Sebring 12-hour on Saturday.

BP is focused on isobutanol because it offers high octane and greater energy density than other biofuel options, said the company’s media release.

“The smaller turbo-charged engines of the ALMS series offer a valuable test-bed for evaluating fuels that can offer the best performance, and Mazda brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will help us develop the best fuels,” said Tim Hayes, vice president, strategic accounts for BP.  “BP sees this as a great opportunity to test and learn about the performance and capability of these advanced fuels and their respective components like isobutanol and ethanol.”

“We’re pleased to take the technical relationship between Mazda and BP to this next step,” said Robert Davis, who is responsible for MazdaSpeed Motorsports Development.  “This is a great opportunity to combine learnings from advanced fuels with a production-derived 2.0-liter turbocharged MZR-R engine. It shows the commitment that both Mazda and BP have to understanding advanced clean, efficient, and environmentally sensitive technologies, and leveraging the learnings to bring relevant technologies to the public in the future.”

The approval of the Butamax continues the push by the ALMS toward alternate fuels. In addition to an ethanol blend used by most competitors and diesel, the series includes cellulosic ethanol among its official fuels. The series remains the only one endorsed by the EPA and DOE.

“The experiment by BP, MazdaSpeed and Dyson Racing to compete at the end of 2009 with isobutanol was an unqualified success on a number of levels,” said Scott Atherton, the ALMS president. “It also serves as another example of our participating manufacturers, teams and partners working hand-in-hand with the American Le Mans Series to develop, produce and display tomorrow’s automotive advancements and innovations in today’s motorsports environment.”

– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at jingram@racintoday.com.

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, March 15 2010
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