CHAMPCAR/CART: John Lopes reacts to rumors on the 2003 engine package

FedEx Championship Auto Racing Teams' John Lopez, Sr. Vice President, Racing Operations, reiterated that the engine package for 2003 is definitely in place despite rumors that have surfaced after the CART Franchise Owners Board met on Wednesday,...

FedEx Championship Auto Racing Teams' John Lopez, Sr. Vice President, Racing Operations, reiterated that the engine package for 2003 is definitely in place despite rumors that have surfaced after the CART Franchise Owners Board met on Wednesday, December 5th.

"We have an engine formula and a complete criteria of supply and suppliers in place for the 2003 season," Lopes said. "We will announce the plan once the entire package has been ratified, but contrary to many reports, we do have something in place."

The same Franchise Board voted on the 3.5-liter normally-aspirated engine on October 4, 2001 at Houston, Texas.

The key wording from the original report was 'The engine formula to be adopted will be open to the distinct possibility of certain enhancements to allow the FedEx Championship Series to continue its distinction as the most advanced form of open-wheel racing in the United States.' Since that meeting, Lopes and Derrick Walker have been developing the specs for the new engine.

They presented the proposal to the Franchise Board this past Wednesday. The proposed enhancements were voted down by just under the required percent needed to pass. The enhancements included variable-size ports and higher rev limits that would allow more power on road courses.

"There are alternative plans in place such as the single supply of turbo pieces that has been discussed," Lopes said. "But I have been tasked with coming up with this 3.5 formula, and that is where I'm at.

"Now we are just tweaking the (3.5-liter engine)," he continued. "We're looking at what development can be made. We are still wrestling with implementing traction control, but the basics are in place, the supply is in place and that's a positive."

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