There was a ton of racing over the Memorial Day weekend but the biggest event was easily the 96th annual Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. This year’s Indy 500 was a year of firsts. It was the first year with the new DW12 Dallara chassis on the famous oval, the first year in a long time that we had multiple engine manufacturers battling it out, and unfortunately the first Indy 500 without Dan Wheldon who won last year’s race before his tragic death. Really the entire event was a massive tribute to Mr. Wheldon and more so than the thrill of victory, the history, and the glory many of the top drivers wanted to win the event just so they could have the honor of their likeness on the Borg Warner trophy next to Dan’s. The new chassis and their freshly tested oval set up provided for tons of excitement as there were 35 total lead changes, smashing the previous record of 29. There were many who were looking like a good bet to take it all. Rookie James “Hinchtown” Hinchcliffe qualified 2nd and held the lead for a significant amount of time. Marco Andretti also looked very strong and lead more laps than most.
Although, in the end it was the familiar sight of the Target Chip Ganassi team taking control of the race. Teammates Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon took turns swapping the lead several times during the last 20 laps although they had serious contention from Tony Kanaan and Takuma Sato. It was Dario who had the lead at the end of the race and despite what can only be described as the ballsy-est oval pass attempt in history by Takuma Sato, Dario managed to hang on to the lead and earned his third Indy 500 victory (under caution). According to Indy Car Dario earned just over 2.4 million dollars for his victory as well as a place in the history books as being among the few drivers to have 3 Indy 500 victories under their belts. To see some of the best race action from the event, scroll down to check out the highlights video.
Fresh off of Long Beach and right before the Indy 500 the Indy Car series visited the streets of Sao Paulo Brazil for a 300 mile street fight. Unfortunately due to the street courses narrow turns and off weather the street fight was more of a thumb wrestling match. Because of the nature of the course and over eagerness on behalf of the drivers, at least a third (conservatively speaking) of the race took place under a yellow flag which resulted in a bit of a snore fest for fans like me watching at home. There was some excitement towards the end when it looked like Rubens Barrichello or Tony Kanaan would make the podium on their home turf but fuel strategy ended that dream for Barrichello and Kanaan was taken out in a late race pile-up. So it was business as usual with Will Power winning the race (from pole). However, Ryan Hunter-Reay provided a bit of excitement by giving Power a serious run in the closing laps but ultimately he did not have anything for the Aussie and remained in second place. The big (and only) surprize in the race came from Takuma Sato who managed to not only finish his first race of the season but also get on the podium capturing third place due to a bit of a gift from that same pile up I mentioned earlier.
Will Power’s win marks his third in a row and puts him in a significant lead in the points battle. Up next is the “most famous race in all of motorsports”, the Indy 500. This will be the first time fans will see the entire grid of new chassis and engine mixes on the famous oval as well as the first time many of the teams on the grid will put wheels down on the hallowed asphalt. May should be an interesting month!
During the LA Auto Show Group Lotus took a few minutes to update the automotive press at large on the status of their engine program announced earlier this year. In case you forgot, last year at the LA Auto Show when Lotus showed off their future line-up it was first thought that they would continue their partnership with Toyota and source the engines for their new supercars from the Japanese manufacturer. It was later announced that Lotus would instead develop their own engines. So, part of this announcement was to let us all know that things on that front are still on schedule. The other intention of the conference was to announce three Indy Car Series teams that will be running Lotus’ new V6 twin-turbo engine for the 2012 season. I spoke with Kevin Smith who is the manager of communications and marketing for Lotus and I asked him if Lotus’ Indy Car program would be directly connected to their engine program for their road cars. His response was that as of now Lotus has no announced plans to build a twin-turbo V6 for any of their road cars but the data from the Indy Car program would very likely have an influence on the naturally aspirated V8 the company is currently working on. He also said they have not ruled out the possibility of a smaller displacement forced-induction engine on one of their future models. To hear all the news straight from the source scroll down and watch our video of the entire announcement. Or you can read the press release below the video.
Lotus IndyCar Developments Announced at the LA Auto Show
Lotus announces three partner teams to run Lotus IndyCar twin turbo V-6 racing engines in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
Lotus Motorsport will supply engines to Bryan Herta Autosport, Dreyer and Reinbold Racing and HVM Racing.
Engine supply partnership agreements will enable Lotus Motorsport to build long term technical and commercial collaborations with these teams.
Lotus utilized the Los Angeles Auto Show today as a platform to announce three partner teams that will race the new Lotus IndyCar V-6 engine in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series. Alongside this Lotus showcased developmental updates on future products and introduced the new Evora with Intelligent Precision Shift (IPS) transmission to the Western US.
Just as developmental work is progressing at full speed on the first of Lotus’ future cars, the all-new Lotus Esprit and its clean-sheet high performance V-8 engine, Lotus Motorsport is rapidly readying its new twin turbo V-6 IndyCar engine for the rigors of racing.
Group Lotus Director of Motorsport Operations, Miodrag Kotur said: “At the LA show last year, we announced that we will be an engine supplier to IndyCar and exactly 12 months on, we are here with an all new Lotus engine and three teams, ready to go. The numbers that the engine is already achieving in our dyno testing are extremely encouraging so our hard work is well and truly paying off.”
“These partnerships with Bryan Herta Autosport, Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, and HVM Racing mean a great deal to Lotus Motorsport and mark the start of a new chapter for Lotus in the IZOD IndyCar Series. We’re thrilled that these already successful and illustrious teams have chosen Lotus, as we believe that our capabilities as a partner will pay dividends for them in the future. These three teams have immediately become part of the Lotus legend and have joined us in our journey as one of the most innovative and successful sports and racing car brands in the world.”
Each of these racing organizations, as Lotus partner teams, will benefit from the extensive testing and development work of the others to more quickly achieve the mutually desired competitive results.
In addition to the new Lotus V6 twin turbo IndyCar engine, work is continuing on the new Lotus Motorsport facility in Indianapolis, which will give the company its base close to the action and its partner teams.
As the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season draws nearer, further announcements will be made by the teams at their individual launch events in due course.