IZOD IndyCar Series officials were understandably jubilant at today's announcement that Chevrolet would return to the sport in 2012 with an all-new racing engine, ending the engine exclusivity of Honda in the series for the first time since 2005.
“This is a very exciting time and one of the biggest announcements in the history of the IZOD IndyCar Series,” said Brian Barnhart, IndyCar president of competition and racing operations. “We are proud to welcome back Chevrolet as a participant in the series.
“This is a company with an incredible reputation – and something from the competition standpoint that the fans and everyone associated with the IZOD IndyCar Series are excited about. This will drive fan excitement, loyalty and creates drama and excitement around the events. It will add an element of intrigue to the outcome of the events and something we are very excited about for the 2012 season."
Erik Berkman, president of Honda Performance Development, issued a statement welcoming Chevy back as a competitor. Honda has utilized Ilmor Engineering – which will be a partner in development of the new Chevy race engine – to rebuild its normally aspirated Indy V8s currently used by the series, but announced back in August that HPD would build its own 2.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 for the 2012 rules.
“We want to take this opportunity to welcome Chevrolet back to the IZOD IndyCar Series," Berkman said. "Although we are certainly proud of HPD's numerous accomplishments during our tenure as single engine supplier to the series – including an active and unprecedented streak of five consecutive Indianapolis 500s completed without an engine failure – we have repeatedly and unequivocally expressed our desire for engine competition within the series, dating even from our first days of sole supply, in 2006. We look forward to renewing our relationship with Chevrolet as competitors on the racetrack and giving the fans of open-wheel racing a spirited and challenging rivalry.”
Barnhart added that he hoped the Chevy announcement would help spur additional competition in the form of aero kits for the new Dallara chassis.
“This is a great time to be introducing a new car and now we will be able to come back with engine manufacturer competition at the same time," Barnhart said. "Hopefully we will be able to add multiple aero kits to the car as well. This takes us back to a time that involves different looking cars and many levels of competition creating a lot of excitement around the IZOD IndyCar Series.”
Mike Kelly, IndyCar's executive vp of marketing and creative for series title sponsor IZOD, welcomed the addition of Chevy's marketing muscle.
“Today's announcement about GM's commitment to the IZOD IndyCar Series is one more sign of the growth of our sport," Kelly said. "We clearly have momentum and we couldn't be prouder to be a part of it. The increased competition that Chevrolet will bring to the series and the added marketing support that a company of their stature brings, is a win/win situation for everyone involved.
"This will send a signal to other manufacturers that our sport provides a great marketing platform for their brands and the IZOD IndyCar Series is the place to be in 2012."