Report from Motorsport News International
Thanks to CART Online
CART Online (November 7) -- Mercedes-Benz will defend its 1997 CART Manufacturer's Championship with a "clean sheet of paper" engine for its stable of teams in PPG CART World Series competition.
The Mercedes-Benz IC108E, currently being dynamometer tested at Ilmor Engineering, the race engine-building arm of Mercedes, in Brixworth, England, employs the latest technology garnered from the three-pointed star's Formula One racing program and is significantly smaller and lighter than the IC108D, which this season powered nine PPG Cup wins and six pole positions -- including the fastest qualifying lap in racing history of 240.942 mph at California Speedway by Mauricio Gugelmin in September.
The level of competition in the CART series demands that we produce a new engine each year," said Paul Ray, vice president of Ilmor. "But, with the exception of the (engine) which dominated at Indy in 1994, they have all been evolutionary developments updates of their predecessors. For 1998, we decided a clean sheet of paper approach was best because there was no way we could encompass all of the new technology available to us in an evolutionary engine."
Much of the technology in the IC108E derives from lessons learned with the Mercedes-Benz FO110, which powered West-McLaren-Mercedes drivers Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard to a one-two finish at the 1997 Formula One season finale in Jerez, Spain, but Ray was quick to point out that the transfer of technology between Mercedes' Formula One and CART programs is a two-way street.
"The E' engine is radically different from anything we've done in CART before, but a lot of it represents a new application of technology that's already proven itself in F-1," he explained. "In addition to that, we've also included a number of innovations which may find their way into next year's Mercedes F-1 engine."
Mercedes-Benz won 40 percent of the races it entered in 1997, and was the only engine manufacturer to power race wins in both CART and Formula One. In addition to nine wins during the 17-race PPG CART World Series, Mercedes-Benz's CLK-GTR scored six victories during the 11-race FIA GT Championship season, with driver Bernd Schneider claiming the driver's championship and Team AMG-Mercedes collecting the team title. In Formula One, the Silver Arrows visited victory lane three times in 17 races, continuing a history of success on the track that dates back more than 100 years to the first auto race ever held.