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INDYCAR Rules Against GM

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, April 27 2012

INDYCAR ruled that Dario Franchitti's car, and other cars powered by Honda, will be able to use revamped turbos. (File photo by INDYCAR/LAT USA)

INDYCAR’s decision to permit a modification to the turbocharger on Honda-powered V-6 engines in the IZOD IndyCar Series was upheld by a three-member committee Thursday night, denying a protest filed by General Motors.

Honda-powered teams will be allowed to change compressor covers on all of its 2.2-liter, single-turbo engines beginning with this weekend’s Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 street race in Brazil. GM filed its protest on Tuesday in response to sanctioning body INDYCAR’s decision on April 18 to approve use of a 0.74 A/R compressor cover for the single turbocharger used solely by Honda. GM’s Chevrolet-powered teams and those running the Lotus engine employ a twin-turbocharger.

According to a report on indystar.com, the modification was to have been made for the April 15 race on the Streets of Long Beach, Calif. But Chevrolet protested, prompting a delay in installation until the hearing held Thursday at an Indianapolis law firm. INDYCAR reportedly approved the change because it felt such an agreement had been reached during early engine meetings in 2010.

Chevrolet-powered Dallaras driven by Will Power (Barber Motorsports Park, Streets of Long Beach) and teammate Helio Castroneves (Streets of St. Petersburg) have combined to win all three IndyCar Series races in 2012. In addition, each Team Penske driver has won a pole position this season, with Power pacing the field at St. Pete, Castroneves at BMP in Birmingham, Ala., and Ryan Briscoe in Long Beach.

Led by the performances of Team Penske’s drivers, Chevrolet has taken six-of-nine combined top-three finishes and 14-of-18 combined starting spots during the Firestone Fast Six qualifying sessions over the first three events. And while all Chevrolet-powered cars were assessed a 10-grid-spot penalty for switching engines prior to qualifying in Long Beach, six-of-seven cars that finished on the lead lap were Chevy-powered.

“Chevrolet filed a protest as permitted by the INDYCAR rules to an April 18th decision by INDYCAR to allow a modification to the turbocharger used by another engine manufacturer,” Jim Campbell, Chevrolet’s U.S. vice president, performance vehicles and motorsports, said in a statement. “Chevrolet believed the modification was contrary to the applicable series rules, and asked INDYCAR to thoroughly review the issue so that the rules were applied fairly.

“We respect the diligence of the panel appointed to hear the protest and examine the situation. While we are disappointed with (Thursday’s) decision, we are prepared to continue to compete at the highest level in the IZOD IndyCar Series.”

In his role as Race Director and pursuant to Rule 12.5, Beaux Barfield, INDYCAR president of competition, elected to utilize a three-person panel to resolve the protest. Honda and Chevrolet were allowed to select one person for the committee, with GM appointing Hans Peter Kollmeier, a former Mercedes-Benz engineer. Honda selected Jim Voyles, an Indianapolis attorney. Because Honda and GM could not agree on the selection of a third committee member, INDYCAR chose Jack Snyder, a longtime member of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway board of directors.

Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing IZOD IndyCar Series program manager, noted Sao Paulo’s 2.536-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit will provide a unique set of challenges for all three engine suppliers.

“In addition to the multiple changes in the track surfaces, at over 7,000-feet above sea level, the temporary circuit has the distinction of being the highest in elevation of all the tracks on the schedule,” Berube said. “As a result, the thinner air at São Paulo’s high altitude puts a new dynamic into the equation for engine cooling and turbocharger workload.”

Per Rule 13.3.2 of the IZOD IndyCar Series rulebook, the decision may be appealed by 5 p.m. (EDT) of the second business day following the release of the decision.

Points-leader Will Power rates as chalk favorite on the Streets of São Paulo, where the Australian is undefeated in the two-year history of the event. Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske

Rubens Barrichello returns home this weekend. (INDYCAR/LAT USA)

Dallara/Chevrolet, won last year after qualifying on-pole with a speed of 111.478 mph.

But São Paulo is a homecoming for native sons Helio Castroneves and Rubens Barrichello, as well as Tony Kanaan of Salvador, Brazil. Castroneves, second in points to his teammate, will drive the No. 3 Penske Logistics Dallara/Chevrolet.

Barrichello, hailed as a national hero during his long Formula One career, will make his inaugural IndyCar start on the streets of his hometown behind the wheel of a KV Racing Technology Chevrolet as teammate to Kanaan.

“Well what can I say about Brazil?” said Barrichello, driver of the No. 8 BMC/Embrase –KVRT Dallara/Chevy. “It is the best week of the year for me and the one that time flies by so fast, so I have to make sure I enjoy every single moment. I’m so happy that IndyCar races in Brazil and what I have been telling people is that we changed addresses – the fans that used to come to Interlagos to watch me (in F1) now they will come to Anhembi.

“There was such a great energy with me racing here in the past and I want the same thing at the Sambodromo. On the track-side, I was able to drive on the simulator and learn what is left and what is right. Now we go to the real track and learn from there. I can’t wait to get the car out on the track.”

Barrichello is ninth in the point standings, while Kanaan – IndyCar Series champion in 2004 – is tied for 11th.

“As always I am looking forward to the race in Brazil,” said Kanaan, driver of the No. 11 Itaipava/GEICO/Mouser Electronics KVRT Dallara/Chevy. “On one hand it’s always very busy with sponsor and other commitments. But on the other, I am racing in front of my son, Leo, my family and my countrymen and the excitement and atmosphere they bring to this race is very special.

“Since we have raced in Brazil, first on the oval in Rio and now on the streets of Sao Paulo, I have always wanted to win this race. But when Rubens agreed to come and race with KV Racing, I made him a deal –he could win here in Brazil if I get to win the Indy 500. We will have to see how things go in the race. I may have to go back on that deal.”

Also racing in her native country this weekend will be Ana Beatriz of Itabira, Minas Gerais. She will pilot the No. 25 Team Ipiranga Dallara/Chevy for Andretti Autosport in what will be her season-debut. Beatriz finished 24th in the event last year driving for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

Qualifying is scheduled on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. (EDT). The 75-lap São Paulo Indy 300 is set to start on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) with live television coverage on NBC Sports Network. Live radio coverage will be carried on XM Radio Channel 94 and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 212. In addition, IndyCar live timing and scoring with the radio broadcast can be accessed at www.indy.car.com.

Any 10-grid position penalties for unapproved engine changes in the three weeks following Sunday’s Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 will not be served for next month’s Indianapolis 500, said Will Phillips, INDYCAR vice president of technology.

The period covers the IndyCar Series Open Test scheduled on May 7 at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, rookie and team testing, and on-track activity at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway through Bump Day on May 20. The 96th edition of the Indy 500 is set for May 27.

“We do not intend to apply any penalties that will disrupt the Indy 500 starting field from their qualifying positions,” Phillips said. “We’re not saying there will not be any penalties; the penalties just won’t be served at Indianapolis. They’ll carry that penalty forward to the next event. Likewise, if someone racks up two penalties, they will go forward to the next two events.” The Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is set for June 3, followed by the Firestone 550k night race at TMS on June 9.

Rules 15.5.1 and 15.6.1 outline the penalty for a change-out if the engine has not reached its minimum mileage threshold.

Indy 500 entrants will receive a fresh Chevrolet, Honda or Lotus engine for the 500, which Phillips expects teams to install for the final practice session on Miller Lite Carb Day. If a team experiences an engine issue during the one-hour session May 25 that requires it to be replaced, it would be subject to a 10-grid position penalty for its next race.

The fresh engine for Race Day will count as one of the five per entry during the season. The entry will continue to use that engine until it has reached the 1,850-mile threshold for service or incurs a problem that forces its replacement. Then the engine with unused miles from pre-Carb Day will be returned for use until it has reached its mileage expiration.

IndyCar Series officials have penalized the No. 11 KV Racing Technology Dallara/Chevrolet driven by Tony Kanaan for failing post-race technical inspection following the April 15 race on the Streets of Long Beach. Officials reported the team failed to comply with Rule 14.7.2 – the maximum capacity of the fuel cell shall be 18.5 U.S. Gallons – and has been fined an undisclosed amount.

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, April 27 2012
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