LA Auto Show 2010 - Lotus enters into a new era agreement with the IRL
On Thursday, November 18, 2010, the second day of the LA Auto Show Press Days held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Group Lotus announced an agreement with Randy Bernard, CEO of the Indy Racing League, to supply engines and aero body kits for the IZOD IndyCar Series beginning with the 2012 season.
The deal that was put together by Dany Bahar, CEO of Group Lotus/Lotus Motorsport [interviewed here by Robin Miller for SPEED Channel], is for a duration of five years and has Lotus also creating a motorsport facility in Indianapolis that will give the company a base in the thick of the action for this unified, exciting, and adrenalin filled race series and make them easy to find by potential IndyCar engine and aero body kit customers.
This announcement closes out a great week for Randy Bernard, Brian Barnhart - President, Operations & Competition, and the future fortunes of the Indy Racing League for the level of competition on many levels starting in 2012. Lotus joins Chevrolet (USA), which also announced an agreement this week, and Honda (Japan) the current and exclusive engine supplier, making available a choice of three manufacturers engines to run in this new and unified era. The IndyCar Series is no longer a "Spec-Series" anymore!
Randy Bernard said: "Lotus is a renowned name in racing, with a long association with some of the greatest names of motorsports. We're honored Lotus has chosen to serve as an engine manufacturer for the first time." Randy shared that the number one concern of the fans after unification was that American open wheel racing did not take the easy route and become a pure specification series where every car was basically the same and all had parts and engines supplied from the same factory.
This interview with Robin Miller all but lays to rest the speculation that Cosworth will be a major player in the development of the Lotus engine package. Dany Bahar all but confirms to Robin that Cosworth will be a go to partner in the development of this exciting engine addition to the competitive mix in the ICS for 2012 and beyond. Lotus Group announced in March 2010 at the Geneva Auto Show a partnership with Cosworth primarily associated with F1 developments. In reality, Lotus may shift its open-wheel racing involvement to the IndyCar Series moving forward.
The speculation was raised that since Kevin Kalkhoven is the team owner of the car driven by Takuma Sato, and sponsored by Lotus, also owns Cosworth. This engine just might be produced by the Cosworth organization and have a Lotus name be placed on it which will give Lotus the instant "gravitas" and history of Cosworth ... and why not?!
The Lotus IndyCar engine will follow the agreed rules, namely 2.4 litre, up to 6 cylinders and turbo charged and producing between 550 and 700 horsepower to suit the diverse set of tracks on which the IZOD IndyCar Series competes. All engines will run on E85 with additional details on the fuel platform to be announced at a later date.
Dany Bahar, CEO of Group Lotus said: "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, Sportscars, F1 - of course, and IndyCar. 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 aero 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." Dany also let loose during the announcement that Lotus would like to make its own chassis and offer this up to other teams as well - ummmmm, interesting.
The announcement in the booth and on the show floor of this 2010 LA Auto Show helped to lend an excitement to their proceedings. Rand Bernard, Brian Barnhart, and Dany Bahar were joined at the podium set up next to Takuma Sato's IndyCar by none other than the person who first drove and won in a Lotus at Indianapolis ... Parnelli Jones. New traditions do not get any better than when one reaches back and brings some of the original traditions forward to form the traditions of this new era.
Claudio Berro, Director of Lotus Motorsport said: "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 IndyCar series."
Long live the IndyCar Series and its agreement with Group Lotus and Lotus Motorsport - may it spur others to step up and compete in this series at every level.
... notes from The EDJE