New Gen of Indy Engines Taken For Road Test

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 2 2022

The new Honda and Chevrolet engines were put to the test this week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road circuit. (Photo courtesy of Honda)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

INDYCAR engine partners Chevrolet and Honda worked around weather issues this week during an extended, three-day test of their respective/new 2.4-liter powerplants on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course.

The next generation of the series’ internal combustion engine, equipped with a hybrid power unit, is scheduled to debut in the NTT IndyCar Series in 2024. Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden and Will Power logged laps for Team Chevrolet, while six-time series champion Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing provided feedback for Honda Performance Development.

Despite weather too cold to record a full day of testing on Monday, March 28, Newgarden logged laps at-speed during the afternoon on a modified version of the 2.6-mile/13-turn layout. After another late start because of cold ambient and track temperatures on Tuesday, Power laid down lap after lap to add to the data collection. Because of the weather issues, the test was extended into Wednesday.

Internal combustion components of the 2.4-liter twin-turbo V6 are different from those currently being run in the 2.2-liter V6. Chevrolet reported logging more than 600 miles with its 2.4-liter unit, albeit not equipped with an energy recovery system delayed by supply chain issues.

Neither manufacturer reported significant problems in engines designed to produce approximately 800 horsepower. When equipped with the energy recovery system, the hybrid package will produce a projected 900 horsepower. The current 2.2-liter/134.25 cubic-inch V6 cranks out an estimated 550-700 horsepower, depending upon turbo boost pressure.

Rob Buckner, Chevrolet Engineering program manager for INDYCAR, termed the test “very successful and productive.”

This was a big milestone,” Buckner said. “We have progressed from initial concept of the 2.4-liter design a few years ago and running extensively on the dyno to installing the engine into a car and now the landmark event of turning our first laps at the Indianapolis Road-Course.

“We are incredibly appreciative of the all the men and women at Chevrolet Performance and our partners at Ilmor for their commitment to a highly successful on-track debut for the 2.4-liter engine platform. We could race this engine tomorrow, which is the highest praise possible for a new engine. Special thanks to Team Penske for quickly building a reliable and safe test car along with Josef Newgarden and Will Power for looking after our prototype engine with first-rate feedback.”

David Salters, HPD president and technical director, said the test represented an important step “as the series moves into the electrified era.”

The engine ran well throughout the three days, and we completed all planned test items, thanks to Chip Ganassi Racing and Scott Dixon,” Salters said of the 2008 Indy 500 champ and native of New Zealand. “But there are many more steps to take before the full, hybrid power unit debuts in 2024. The all-new 2.4-liter E85 bio-fueled engine has been designed, simulated, developed, dyno-tested, manufactured and assembled by the inspiring Honda men and women at HPD in (Torrance) California. We set ourselves these challenges to develop our people and technology here at HPD.

“We are very proud of the amazing team at HPD and our Honda ‘challenging spirit.’  There is still a very, very long list of things to be accomplished before the power unit is tested in competition, but this is certainly a major milestone for everyone at Honda Performance Development.”

Newgarden won the series’ most recent event _ the XPEL 375 on Texas Motor Speedway’s high-banked/1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth _ on March 20.

“It was a thrill to get to work with the Team Chevy engineering group and get to drive the new 2024 engine package,” said Newgarden, the series champion in 2017 and 2019 and driver of the No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet. “It was a great collaborative effort to get the new engine on track to start testing for all the components needed in our Chevy.

“I always enjoy getting to work with everyone at Team Chevy and the cohesive unit we develop as partners with the same goals. For us, getting started early really emphasizes the importance of everything we are going to need in the future _ durability, power, fuel mileage. These are the things we’re always working on and I’m excited to see what the future is going to hold for Chevy in INDYCAR.”

Team Chevy engineers worked with Power, a native of Australia, to compile additional hot-lap data. “It was clear immediately that Chevy has put a lot of work into this already,’ said Power, the 2014 series champion and winner of the 2018 Indy 500. “It will obviously continue to get better and better. The Verizon 5G Chevy team did 150 laps, and I was impressed with the power of the engine throughout the day. I’m very excited about this addition to the series and can’t wait to continue to help develop it.”

Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin, a native of New Zealand, won the 2022 season-opener on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on Feb. 27, with Newgarden adding his victory at TMS last month. Since returning to the series in 2012, Chevrolet has won 97 of 167 races, four Indianapolis 500s, six driver championships and six manufacturers’ titles.

Round 3 of the 17-race schedule _ the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach _ is scheduled for April 8-10 in Southern California.

We now turn our focus back to the Chevrolet 2.2-liter and a high workload of team testing ahead of the Long Beach Grand Prix next weekend,” Buckner said. “It’s the most challenging time of the year for everyone involved in INDYCAR and I’m looking forward to watching the Chevrolet Competition group and our race teams execute. All our goals for 2022 are right in front of us and we are ready.”

Twenty-five years after winning its first INDYCAR manufacturers’ championship, Honda clinched its 10th overall, and fourth consecutive title, in 2021. Included was an historic, record-tying fourth Indy 500 victory for native Brazilian Helio Castroneves of Meyer Shank Racing last May 30.

Englishman Jack Harvey, sidelined after a crash during practice at Texas Motor Speedway on March 19, has been cleared by the INDYCAR medical team to compete in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 8-10.

Harvey, of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, crashed his No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda during the final one-hour practice on TMS’ high-banked/1.5-mile oval. Harvey was examined at the track’s infield medical center after the mishap and initially cleared to drive in Sunday’s XPEL 375. 

Per IndyCar protocol, all drivers wear accelerometers that measure g-forces exhibited during an incident. These get evaluated after each incident and if the result of the g-forces surpasses the minimum threshold, drivers must be re-evaluated prior to returning to competition. Following this protocol, Harvey was re-evaluated Sunday morning and not cleared for racing.

Aspiring IndyCar driver Santino Ferrucci was hastily recruited to Fort Worth to drive the backup No. 45 Honda. Ferrucci delivered a solid, ninth-place finish after starting 27th and last.

RLLR said in a statement, “We would like to express our gratitude for the exceptional care that Dr. Billows, his staff including Dr. Julia Vaizer and Dr. Terry Trammell and the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team has given to Jack, both onsite in Texas and in the time since then.”

Ed Carpenter Racing has entered into a unique, humanitarian partnership with Building Tomorrow _an international not-for-profit organization supporting literacy and numeracy in Uganda _ for the GMR Grand Prix in Indianapolis on May 14.

Through the generosity of a longtime Building Tomorrow supporter, defending race-winner Rinus VeeKay of The Netherlands will compete in the No. 21 Building Tomorrow Chevrolet as “Month of May” activities get underway at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Together, Building Tomorrow and ECR have launched a “Ride with Rinus” campaign, allowing any contributor who donates $75 to have their name added to the livery of VeeKay’s Dallara chassis.

Founded in 2006, Building Tomorrow aims to improve learning outcomes in underserved communities throughout Uganda. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 1.2- million children were out of school across Uganda. The country then experienced the longest continuous school closures in the world due to the pandemic, with 10-million children out of school for nearly two years. Working in partnership with local communities, Building Tomorrow delivered its “Roots to Rise” literacy and numeracy programming to more than 40,000 children in 2021 and will reach over 100,000 learners in 2022.

(Editor’s Note: John Sturbin is a Texas-based journalist specializing in motorsports. During a near 30-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he won the Bloys Britt Award for top motorsports story of the year (1991) as judged by The Associated Press; received the National Hot Rod Association’s Media Award (1997) and several in-house Star-Telegram honors. He also was inaugural recipient of the Texas Motor Speedway Excellence in Journalism Award (2009). His list of freelance clients includes Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, Rome (N.Y) Daily Sentinel, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times, NASCAR Wire Service and Ford Racing).


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 2 2022
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