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The IRL is to switch from methanol to ethanol in upcoming seasons, with a blend of methanol and ethanol in 2006, to be followed by 100% ethanol in 2007.

The switch to ethanol follows several years of discussions with the ethanol industry by the IRL. The move to the renewable, non-toxic, clean burning and 100 percent biodegradable fuel is seen as a positive enviromental move.

The series sees no major problems with the switch to ethanol from methanol, which has been used in US open-wheel series since the 1960s. "The transition between methanol and ethanol in our cars should be very smooth," IRL senior technical director Phil Casey said. "Our cars won't sound differently, smell differently or run differently than they have in the past. There will be a seamless transition from methanol to ethanol in our cars."

The target for 2006 is a blend of 90 percent methanol and 10 percent ethanol. In 2007, the fuel will be 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol, the same fuel that may replace 10 or more percent of the US's petrol supply.

To build awareness of the switch in fuel, the ethanol industry will sponsor a car in this year's series, the Dallara/Toyota/Firestone entry of Paul Dana.

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