Chevrolet will replace the engines in all 11 of its V-6-powered entries in the IZOD IndyCar Series prior to the start of on-track activities this weekend at the streets of Long Beach. The decision was made following the tear-down and inspection of an engine that experienced an issue during an IndyCar-sanctioned test earlier this week at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.
“We are still learning the limitations of the new engine controls calibration,” said Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing IZOD IndyCar Series program manager. “Through our testing in Sonoma, as indicated by an engine issue, we uncovered a problem that we believe could affect all engines. So, as a result, we feel it is prudent to change all engines prior to the start of the on-track activities this weekend.”
Per the provisions set forth in the IndyCar rule book (rules 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52) that outlines the penalty for a change-out if the engine has not reached its minimum mileage threshold of 1,850 miles, each of the 11 drivers will be levied with a 10 position penalty on the starting grid prior to the green flag for the Long Beach race.
“This is certainly a decision that was not made lightly,” Berube said. “We intently discussed the situation with our partners and our teams prior to determining that this was the best course of action to preserve the integrity of the racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series."
Through the first two races of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule, the Chevrolet V-6 2.2 liter engine has scored two victories and two poles. Helio Castroneves won the season opener at St. Petersburg; Will Power won at Barber Motorsports Park.
Whether IndyCar will take action regarding the 10-spot penalties or if any rule might be changed remains to be seen at this point. IndyCar tweeted "more details to come" in the wake of the news.
All of the comments from the Andretti Autosport team are below.
“This is obviously disappointing, but it is the same for all the Chevy teams and these things happen when you are in development programs," said Andretti Autosport president and CEO Michael Andretti. "Luckily the problem was caught during a test rather than in the middle of a race. It's unfortunate, but we stand behind Chevy and whatever is needed to continue to set the standard.”
“I am disappointed to see the RC Coal team – and all the Chevy teams – punished for the engine change," said Marco Andretti. "But in the past two races Chevy has proven to be the stronger engine so we'll just have to fight our way back up.”
“I was already penalized the ten spots before the decision to change out all Chevy engines. It's a bummer but now at least I'm not alone," James Hinchcliffe said. "There will now be some good racing happening mid-pack. The engine mileage rule is a tremendous engineering challenge and ultimately helps improve technology for the automotive industry. In an era of multiple manufacturers you sometimes have to exceed limits to know where they truly are. Chevy has been an incredible partner since the new cars arrived. They have won the first two races, from pole, and I'm proud to wear the bowtie on my chest. It would be easy to complain about how harsh (the penalty) is, but I think the attitude of everyone on the Go Daddy crew is that when the going gets tough, it's time to nut up, buckle down and push hard for the best result possible. And that's exactly what we're going to do.”
“It's unfortunate that it's precautionary measure going into what has been historically our strongest race," Ryan Hunter-Reay said. "Qualifying on street circuits is held at a premium and is very important. I think we had a good shot of putting the DHL / Sun Drop car on pole here because we've qualified on the front row the past two years. Personally, I feel this is a drastic punishment. The engine manufactures have done a lot in a short time and to penalize the drivers ten spots in what will be a tight championship fight, I think, is drastic, but I don't make the rules. I certainly believe in Chevrolet, every engine they have given me has been strong and I am proud to represent their brand.”