Group Lotus to build IndyCar engine

Group Lotus will ramp up its involvement in the IndyCar Series and join Honda and Chevrolet as an engine supplier when the new generation rules come into effect in 2012

Group Lotus to build IndyCar engine

Lotus had already announced that it would build a bodywork package for the new regulations, under which teams and constructors can add their own aero kits to a Dallara-supplied safety cell, and announced in Las Angeles today that it would also be building a new engine to compete outright.

"We take racing seriously and we don't just want to put a sticker on a car that we did not have an influence to build, " said Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar. "We want to really fight and compete with the big guys."

Bahar added that this year's one-car presence, run by KV Racing for Takuma Sato, was a first exploratory step in to the IndyCar Series, which has convinced the company to sanction a full factory effort from 2012.

"We have a Lotus way to do things and we always try to understand what we are getting into, which is why we started this year with a very small activity with Takuma Sato and the KV Racing team with one car," said Bahar. "[We did this] to understand IndyCar racing and to see if there was an opportunity for us to become a real contender and we made the decision that this is where we want to be.

"We believe in the series, it is developing very, very well and it fits perfectly our activities and our strategy in the US - which is our biggest market.

"So we took the decision as I said to build our own engine, but not only that we have to fight Chevrolet and Honda, but that's fine - that's all about competition. Not only that but also by 2012 we will also be designing our own chassis and our own aero kit obviously.

"So we would like to compete, to design our own cars and maybe other teams can also profit from our design capabilities. That's why we started already from today investing money and capacity in developing the right aero kit and the right engine for 2012."

No details were released about the engine, or even which teams would run the cars, but Bahar indicated that Lotus is set to expand its involvement with KV Racing, whose co-founder Kevin Kalkhoven also owns Formula 1 engine manufacturer Cosworth.

"Although we did not have a lot of success this year it was a very interesting season for us to understand," said Bahar. "Another decision we made regarding IndyCar is that we will be expanding our presence in IndyCar with our partner KV Racing and it will be three or even maybe more cars with our livery on the grid [next year]."

Speaking at the announcement, IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernhard said that the recent announcements by Lotus and Chevrolet meant that the category was delivering on its promise to fans to move away from a single car/engine formula.

"Last March one thing we learned really quick was that the fans wanted to see the 'spec' series go away," said Bernhard. "That was the number one thing they said.

"Lotus is a renowned name in racing, with a long association with some of the greatest names of motorsports," he added in a statement. "We're honoured Lotus has chosen to serve as an engine manufacturer for the first time with us.

"We are excited about the future of IndyCar racing with the addition of Chevrolet and Lotus as well as the continued involvement of our longtime engine supplier Honda. The IZOD IndyCar Series has the fastest, most versatile cars and drivers in the world, and now we have engine competition to provide even more excitement for our fans."

The Lotus name has long been synonymous with IndyCar racing, and Jim Clark famously won the 1965 Indianapolis 500 with a Ford-powered Lotus 38.

Group Lotus, which has been linked to a Formula 1 effort next year through a deal with Renault F1 team shareholder Genii Capital, has significantly expanded its motorsport portfolio in recent months - announcing future Le Mans LMP2 and GT programmes and linking up with ultra-successful single-seater outfit ART in GP2 and GP3.

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