Lotus Withdraws From IndyCar

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, December 7 2012

Lotus' stay in IndyCar was a short one. (INDYCAR/LAT USA)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Lotus has been released from its contract to supply engines to the IZOD IndyCar Series after a dismal single-season of domestic open-wheel competition.

“We appreciate the effort that Lotus made in helping return manufacturer competition to the IZOD IndyCar Series,” Brian Barnhart, INDYCAR’s president of operations and strategy said Friday morning. “However, Lotus has made a business decision not to return in 2013 and asked for its release. We wish them well and would welcome their participation again in the future.”

The series will move forward with Chevrolet and Honda as suppliers of twin-turbocharged V6 engines for the 2013 season. Per IZOD IndyCar Series rules, each engine manufacturer must be able to supply 60 percent of the field of entrants. Bringing Lotus into the series was one of the initiatives of Randy Bernard, the series’ former CEO.

“Lotus is grateful to INDYCAR for the opportunity to compete during the 2012 season and for the support provided throughout,” Aslam Farikullah, Lotus CEO, said in a statement. “The decision not to continue was not an easy one and Lotus does not discount the possibility to re-enter the series at some time in the future. For the time being, Lotus will focus on core business activities as a leading sports car manufacturer and world-class engineering consultancy.”

Lotus announced its INDYCAR participation in November 2010, with Simona De Silvestro of Lotus HVM Racing recording the first shakedown of the manufacturer’s twin-turbocharged V6 in January 2012. Lotus went into the season with HVM Racing, Lotus Dragon Racing, Lotus Bryan Herta Autosport and Lotus Dreyer & Reinbold Racing confirmed as engine partners. At season’s end in September, only HVM Racing was running the engine with De Silvestro. She finished 24th in driver points during a season in which her best start was 17th and best finish was 13th. De Silvestro did not lead a lap and was running at the finish of only six of 15 races.

De Silvestro, a 24-year-old native of Switzerland, since has joined KV Racing Technology as teammate to 2004 series champion Tony Kanaan of Brazil. The team competes with Chevrolet engines.

“It (2012) was really frustrating, especially on the ovals because it was such a big speed difference,” De Silvestro said after a KVRT/Chevrolet test at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth last month. “Here it was almost like 10 mph. So when you’re out there and people are coming at such a different speed it was actually pretty sketchy and I didn’t enjoy it.

“It was a really long season for us. On the other side, I could really focus on the car; we worked a lot on that side and improved that. Even on the ovals I had no real pressure of result because we didn’t have the speed. So I was just kind of learning the things I have to learn and try to do better. Hopefully that’s going to help me for next season. Being with the Chevy power now, it’s hard to express how different it is to what I had last year.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, December 7 2012
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