Lotus Cars confirmed Thursday at the Los Angeles Auto Show that it would indeed supply both engines and aero kits for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series, although it offered no specifics of the engine, which it said would be revealed at a later date.
“Lotus is unique in the automotive world, no other car company has been more successful in such a wide variety of motorsports discipline, whether it is Le Mans, World Rally, sports cars, F1, of course, and IndyCar,” said Dany Bahar (LEFT), CEO of Group Lotus, owner of Lotus Cars. “This year, we teamed up with KV Racing for IndyCar and we will significantly increase our participation next year. However, in 2012, IndyCar competitors will have the exciting opportunity to choose an IndyCar with a Lotus engine and body kit, immediately become part of a legacy that is Lotus: one of the most innovative and successful sports and racing car brands in the world.”
“Lotus is a renowned name in racing, with a long association with some of the greatest names of motorsports,” said IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard. “We're honored Lotus has chosen to serve as an engine manufacturer for the first time with us.
“We are excited about the future of Indy car 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.”
Lotus Cars, based in Norfolk, England, has competed in a variety of motorsports disciplines since the legendary Colin Chapman founded the company in 1952, including Indy car racing, Formula 1 and sports cars. Jim Clark drove a Lotus chassis to victory in the 1965 Indianapolis 500, and Lotus sponsored the KV Racing Technology car driven by rookie Takuma Sato in the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series. However, this is the first time Lotus will have competed with its own engine.
“The history and DNA of Lotus is all about extracting the most performance out of a car in return for maximum efficiency, and we are delighted to offer our engine and aero body kit to the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series,” said Claudio Berro, director of Lotus Motorsport. “We will be using the knowledge gained from our extensive research into E85 biofuel and turbocharged engines to ensure we extract the maximum performance.
“As you would expect from the company that pioneered aerodynamics in sports car and F1 racing over the years our aero body kit will also be a world-class solution, So, all in all, will the 2012 Lotus IndyCar be as innovative and revolutionary as the Lotus Type 38 that won in 1965 and changed Indy forever? Maybe – we'll have to wait and see!”
Lotus has been widely tipped to be partnering with Cosworth on its engine venture, although Lotus boss Bahar stressed that his company was determined not merely to be a badge on the engineering work of others.
"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 Bahar. "We want to really fight and compete with the big guys. 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 start already from today investing money and capacity in developing the right aero kit and the right engine for 2012."
Bahar indicated that Lotus is set to expand its involvement with KV Racing, whose co-founder, Kevin Kalkhoven, is also the owner of 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."
The 2012 IndyCar engine rules allows manufacturers to produce engines with a maximum of six cylinders. The engines will be turbocharged producing between 550 and 700 horsepower to suit the diverse set of tracks on which the IZOD IndyCar Series competes. The new engines will run on E85 ethanol, with specifics of the fuel formula to be announced at a later date.