The IndyCar Series' 2012 engine formula will see a return to turbocharged power, and will allow manufacturers greater freedom to choose their engine configuration.
The Indy Racing League announced the spec for its new-generation engine rules on Wednesday. It has yet to reveal which of the five competing chassis concepts – or what combination thereof – has been chosen for the 2012 package, although the league says an announcement on that front will be made June 30.
"The exciting new platform, which debuts in 2012, will allow manufacturers to produce engines with a maximum of six cylinders as well as maximum displacement of 2.4 cubic liters," said an IRL statement. "The ethanol-fueled engines will produce between 550 and 700 horsepower to suit the diverse set of tracks on which the IZOD IndyCar Series competes and will be turbocharged to allow for flexibility in power."
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard is eager to attract multiple manufacturers to the series, which has been all-Honda powered since 2006, and believes this package is the right approach. It will mark the first time turbocharged engines have appeared in the IRL-sanctioned series since its formative races in 1996, when it utilized year-old CART Champ Car equipment.
"We feel this open and all-inclusive platform will make our sport an attractive option to engine manufacturers, while allowing development of a relevant and innovative platform to the current and future automotive industry by highlighting efficiency, performance, durability, quality, environmental responsibility and safety," said Bernard.
IndyCar's president of competition, Brian Barnhart, acknowledged that the rules would have to be carefully tailored to ensure the different engine types could compete equally.
"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 Barnhart. "For example, we could see a V6 competing against an inline 4 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."
"Speaking on behalf of the ICONIC Advisory Committee members, it has been an honor to contribute to the development of the new generation of IndyCar," said Gil de Ferran, team owner representative to the committee. "We feel this new engine strategy is open, inclusive, powerful and high performance, in keeping with the historical values associated with Indy car racing. Additionally, it poses relevant challenges which the automotive industry faces today."
Committee members include de Ferran, Barnhart, Tony Cotman, Eddie Gossage, Rick Long, Tony Purnell and Neil Ressler. It is mediated by retired Air Force Gen. William R. Looney III.