No engine problem

The news that Ford is shutting down its Formula One programme and putting Cosworth Racing up for sale should not affect the 2005 Champ Car World Series, reports

No engine problem

Champ Cars has used the turbocharged Ford/Cosworth XFE engine exclusively the past two years and is negotiating to keep its partnership for 2005. General Motors meanwhile pays Cosworth to manage and develop its Chevrolet engine for the IRL IndyCar Series and is thought to have one year remaining on its contract.

Both programmes are profitable for Cosworth but neither series is totally beholding to the long-time British engine manufacturer.

"We own the 100 engines we race and our agreement with Cosworth is to maintain them," said Kevin Kalkhoven, one of the principal owners of Open Wheel Racing Series. "We've got a good relationship with Cosworth but if something were to happen we could always go with someone else.

"But we don't anticipate that this is going to be an issue."

After being badly beaten by Toyota and Honda during the first half of 2003, GM contracted Cosworth to rescue Chevrolet in IRL competition and it promptly responded with a victory in only its third start.

"GM has maintained a relationship with Cosworth for nearly 30 years and we have an on-going technical partnership with them to continue developing the Chevrolet V-8 IRL engine," said Rick Voegelin, whose High Performance Communications company handles the public relations for the IRL program.

"We fully anticipate this relationship with Cosworth to continue through the duration of our agreement."

Ian Bisco, vice president of Cosworth USA, believes it's a little too early to speculate on what might happen.

"There's been a lot of stuff going on recently and we knew it was coming," said Bisco of Ford's F1 pullout. "In the 25 years I've worked here we've had five different owners so call me naive but I don't think it's going to be too difficult to find a buyer.

"Our company on the whole has some good income-generating business and quite a few incentives. To do business we don't have to be owned by Ford."

Besides the Jaguar team, Cosworth also supplies Jordan and Minardi with F1 power in addition to the World Rally series. Even though Champ Car owns its engines, Cosworth provides track support in addition to maintenance and reaps a reported $1.2m per team for engines that would be gathering dust in a warehouse had this deal not been struck in 2003. And Cosworth's normally-aspirated engine had no life until GM came calling last year.

Cosworth also builds engines for the Speed World Series.

Voegelin says GM is not interested in purchasing Cosworth and it's possible the company could be sold off in sections. Jordan and Minardi might try to get a consortium to keep the F1 engine running and a separate entity keeping the Torrance factory in the US open.

Ford, which has talked with its divisions in Canada, Mexico and South America about supporting the Champ Car series, does not yet have a contract with OWRS for '05 but met with Gerald Forsythe and Kalkhoven last weekend in Laguna Seca about the future.

"I think it's important that the important people are talking and I think there will be a resolution," said Bisco.

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