August 9th, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ohio — Not exactly a secret but now it is a formality — Honda will build engines using the new platform announced by the IndyCar Series earlier this year.
Honda Performance Development announced Saturday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course that it will build the new engine that will be used in 2012.
HPD has been supplying engines to IndyCar since 2003 and is current contract was set to expire in 2011. That is the final year of the current normally-aspirated V8 engine which will be replaced by the new 2.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engine in 2012.
The cost of a season-long lease will be reduced by “up to 40 percent” from the current price, according to Honda officials.
Honda Performance Development president Erik Berkman called it “the worst kept secret in racing” that Honda has decided to commit to the new engine.
“It’s important that we come out and be clear,” Berkman said. “The rules haven’t been issued but we have been in constant and frequent dialogue with the League (Indy Racing League) for years. We are off the treadmill now and actually moving forward. There will be a time later to announce the actual engine design but we are moving forward and continue our relationship with the series.”
Honda’s “open-wheel” history began in 1994 which includes nine seasons in CART/Champ Car before joining IndyCar. During that time, Honda has 170 race victories, 12 drivers’ championship, 10 Manufacturers’ Championships and seven Indianapolis 500 wins. It has been the sole supplier to the IndyCar Series since 2006.
“With a passionate and energetic new title sponsor in IZOD, dynamic new management at its helm and plans to significantly reshape its on-track product in the near future, the IndyCar Series is poised for significant growth,” Berkman said. “We are delighted to take a role in that promising future.”
Berkman said Honda is working on the assumption there will be competition from another engine manufacturer in the future.
“They all could compete in 2012,” Berkman said. “What is preventing them from throwing their hats in the ring? That’s a better question for them.
“We very much want competition. We haven’t seen anyone else raise their hand but we are hoping they do. The League announced a cost structure and we have agreed to do that. We are operating at the assumption there won’t be competition in 2012 from the standpoint we have to be prepared to have sole supply. If sole supply changes the competition at some point in the time we have made some investment in design.”
There are varying engine designs and structure that would be used by HPD if there were competition or not because it would change the cost/investment structure based on demand. If it is the sole engine supplier it will have to have enough engines for a “large field” at the Indianapolis 500. If a competitive engine manufacturer comes in then HPD will have to keep the cost structure based on the IndyCar rules.
It will continue to be an engine lease arrangement instead of teams owning the engines. HPD owns, builds and maintains the engines that are supplied to each team.
If another engine manufacturer wants to join the IZOD IndyCar Series, it would be behind Honda because of the lead time that is necessary to make changes for the new package.
“If a company is not fairly well along that design process by now and if you are not you won’t launch a reliable product by the start of the 2012 season,” Berkman said. “If a company has a product capable of producing 750 horsepower in another series then we would already know about that.”
A multiple engine supplier could also lead to an “equivalency formula” because some potential engine manufacturers would prefer an inline 4-cylinder.
“Competition is what we want,” Berkman said. “It’s our DNA. For anybody who thought now would be a good time to leave the series then this just shot that down.
“We are happy to start anew with this new engine formula.”