By: Tony DiZinno, IndyCar correspondent
- Chevrolet has hit completion deadlines
- Hope to run in mid-June, hit track in third quarter
- Still plan aero kit for whenever it is introduced
First Honda competitor since 2005 moving in development
Chevrolet’s foray back into North American open-wheel racing for the first time since 2005 is going according to plan, manufacturer officials said at a Thursday morning press conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Mark Kent, director of GM Racing, and Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports for GM, said Chevrolet has hit all of its target dates so far in preparing its new engine for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series.
Kent said Chevrolet is looking at getting its engine running in mid-June, and hitting the race track in the third quarter of the year.
The new twin-turbocharged V6 engine takes some of what Chevrolet has put into its production models and uses it for track development, Campbell said.
“Having a smaller displacement, with the V6, direct injection, a turbo and E85, is exactly what we’re doing on production,” Campbell said. “These (regulations) are exactly what we need.”
This is not an exercise in badge engineering.
Kent described further details about the new IndyCar engine, developed in partnership with Illmor technologies. In November 2010, Chevrolet announced its intention to return to the series looking ahead to the new set of rules that will come in 2012.
While Illmor will assist in development, Kent said Chevrolet provides Illmor with all resources and expertise. Technologies such as E85, the second generation of ethanol, and direct injection are new to Illmor.
“They are deeply involved, but this is not an exercise in badge engineering,” Kent said.
Engines will be directly provided to the teams. While Roger Penske’s squad is Chevrolet’s first officially confirmed team — Penske is helping bring the “bowtie brigade” back to the Brickyard — no other teams have yet been announced. Campbell said discussions with prospective teams have been positive so far.
The other elephant in the room was the looming notion that the new aero kits scheduled to debut in 2012 along with the new car might be further delayed. IndyCar Series owners, led by Penske, have discussed the possibility of postponing the aero kits until 2013.
From a Chevrolet perspective, Kent said their own aero kits are a matter of when, not if.
“In November, we said we were fully in support of the aero kits,” Kent said. “That position has not changed. We’re just now determining the best timing with series officials.”
Components on the engine are being developed and produced in England with Illmor, and then assembled in North America.