Looking for some technical diversity in the Izod IndyCar series? Wait until the 2012 season. Officials announced new engine rules that not only focus on improving fuel economy, but may also allow an array of manufacturers to become involved with the series.
Presently, power in each and every IndyCar racer comes courtesy of a 3.5-liter V-8 developed and manufactured by Honda. Come 2012, cars will use engines sourced from several different companies, although they must conform to some basic specifications. At this point, the preliminary spec sheet calls for an engine that is turbocharged, capable of running on ethanol, has a maximum displacement of 2.4 liters, and no more than six cylinders.
In racing, those regulations are anything but stringent. IndyCar’s idea was to inspire companies to develop various engine designs to aim for the perfect balance of fuel economy and power. Fuel economy will be a critical factory, as IndyCar plans on ultimately regulating power output. Although no firm rules have been set, it’s believed output will be restricted between 550 and 700 horsepower, depending on the track.
“We will continue to evaluate rules that will keep a level playing field across the board with the various engines that could enter our sport,” said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for IndyCar.
“For example, we could see a V-6 competing against an inline-four at all Izod IndyCar series events in the future. We will require reference engines as a benchmark in performance while looking at sonic air restrictors, fuel flow restrictions, and more as key criteria for competition.”
Although a chassis supplier has not yet been set for the 2012 car, this instills any interested manufacturer with a greater challenge, as they will need to design and build a chassis capable of housing any number of engine configurations.