INDYCAR Introduces New Engine

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, February 18 2012

The new IndyCar chassis now have new engines to power them. (Photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

Engine regulations designed to create a “level playing field” for the IZOD IndyCar Series’ various manufacturers through the 2016 season were released by INDYCAR officials on Friday.

Consumer-relevant, 2.2-liter, direct-injected turbocharged V-6 engines supplied by Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus will make their competitive debuts in five weeks at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 25. A 28-car field is expected for the eighth annual race – first of 16 events scheduled for 2012 – as engine manufacturer competition returns to the series for the first time since 2005.

“The engine rules (announced Friday) developed through the INDYCAR Engine Committee over the past 20 months. The only significant change was in capacity (from 2.4 to 2.2-liters),” said Trevor Knowles, INDYCAR’s director of engine development. “In the past few Engine Committee meetings, it has been tidying-up and clarifications.”

Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus have totaled more than 13,500 miles during their phases of on-track development. Team testing is ongoing at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., and Sebring International Raceway in Florida. An Open Test is scheduled for March 5-6 and 8-9 at Sebring. Engine life is projected at 1,850 miles, and each full-season entrant will receive five fresh engines per year.

Based upon a recommendation from the ICONIC Advisory Committee, the engine platform was made public in June 2010. Similarly, the Advisory Committee made a recommendation to INDYCAR regarding the supplier of the next-generation Dallara chassis. INDYCAR released its 2012 sporting and technical regulations last week.

The INDYCAR Engine Committee was set up as a consultative group chaired by Will Phillips, INDYCAR vice president of technology. The committee consists of representatives from each engine manufacturer, a representative from the sanctioning body plus other invited attendees when appropriate – for example BorgWarner, which is supplying the single and twin turbochargers.

Regulations will be stable through the 2016 season, with any corrections or modifications decided by INDYCAR after consultation with the Engine Committee.

Manufacturers will provide a pool of engines, which INDYCAR officials will allocate to corresponding teams in a random manner. INDYCAR engine support engineers will employ and monitor torque sensors on selected manufacturers’ engines to ensure compliance with homologation regs. “It’s to track that nobody’s getting left behind and to track that all their teams are getting equal treatment,” Knowles said.

On June 18 and again at the end of the year, manufacturers whose engines are statistically more than 2.5 percent deficient in power may, at the discretion of INDYCAR, make improvements to be homologated. Alterations are allowed to make up 2 percent of shortcomings and will be introduced on only new engines being sent to the track. Homologation (sealing of mandated components) will take place next week.

Also, manufacturers can request changes to engine components and McLaren software alterations. Information would be shared with INDYCAR and the other manufacturers.

“If a manufacturer has a problem with a homologated part breaking or there is some operation that they could eliminate to make it less expensive or they have to change suppliers that would lead to changes in how it’s made,” Knowles said, “they can approach us with a request and we would circulate to the other manufacturers for a check that it’s not a backdoor way of increasing performance. If it passes those checks, they would be given the go-ahead to do it.

“Software is similar to an engine modification. They would request a change to get it incorporated. All manufacturers would then have the opportunity to use that software.”

For gearheads only, here are the engine basics:

– Capacity – 2.2 liter maximum

– Cylinders – Up to six, all of equal capacity

– RPM – 12,000 as restricted by the Engine Control Unit (ECU)

– Horsepower – Between 550 and 700, suited to type of circuit

– Fuel – E85; fuel injection allowed

– Oil – Only lubricating oil readily available to general public through retail methods

– Boost pressure – 155KPa for road courses, 140KPa for short ovals and 130KPa for speedways. Two boost sensors will be fitted and monitored by INDYCAR

– Minimum weight – 112.5kg (248 pounds), excluding items such as clutch, ECU, fluids, turbocharger

– Turbocharger – Single or twin featuring water-cooled bearing housing and titanium turbine wheel provided by BorgWarner

– Mounting – Common mounting points on bulkhead and gearbox for all three manufacturers

– Engine life – 1,850 miles; each full-season entrant will receive five fresh engines per year

– “Push to Pass” – Not to start 2012 season

Engine architecture

– Bank angle – V-6 engines, between 60 and 90 degrees

– Bore – 95mm diameter maximum

– Engine length – 460mm, measured from mounting face to mounting face

– Crankshaft height – 100mm above bottom of chassis (lowest point of sump)

– One-piece crankshaft – Homogenous, with no additional non-ferrous inserts or bolt-on balance weights

– Main bearing minimum dimension – 48mm diameter

– Big end journal minimum dimension – 40mm diameter

– Connecting rods – Homogenous, with no welding or bonding

– Piston pin – Single piece only

Valve type – Reciprocating circular poppet, return force via coil spring only

– Spark plug – One per cylinder otherwise free

– Coatings – DLC coatings are not permitted on crankshafts, rods, camshafts, piston skirts or sleeves

– Camshafts – Up to four overhead camshafts permitted (two per bank)

The first of four miles of concrete barriers outlining the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg street course were put into place Friday. Barriers and fencing will be moved into position over the next five weeks in advance of the IZOD IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy series race weekend March 23-25. IndyCar’s season-opening race will be broadcast on ABC.

The 1.8-mile circuit will incorporate a runway of the Albert Whitted Airport and a street with Tampa Bay on the left and the new Salvador Dali Museum on the right. Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing won the race last spring en route to the series championship.

A lack of sponsorship could force start-up team-owner Michael Shank to miss the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg next month.

“We’ve got the car in the shop and the people we need to go run the car, but at this point we are still working to have the full budget in place to go racing,” said Shank, who teamed in October with NASCAR driver A.J. Allmendinger and Columbus (Ohio)-area businessman Brian Bailey to form Michael Shank Racing Indy. “I don’t want to be in a position to just go out and make up the numbers. We want to show up and have a competitive presence.”

Shank’s GRAND-AM team opened the year by winning the 50th edition of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

“My main goal is to make this thing work,” Shank said, “and if that means working with a technical partner to make it happen or just focusing on particular races then so be it. Obviously, there are folks out there testing right now, and that is the best-case scenario to be in. We’ve got a little bit bigger hill to climb at the moment, but we are not giving up by any stretch.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, February 18 2012
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