Hearing on turbocharger protest scheduled, Lotus drops 2 teams

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Allan Brewer, IndyCar correspondent

IndyCar today announced a hearing for a protest filed by General Motors (GM) over engine specs. The hearing follows on the heels of the decision made last week by the open-wheel sanctioning body to allow Honda to use a 0.74 A/R compressor cover for its single turbocharger engine

IndyCar has scheduled a meeting this Thursday, April 26th with Beaux Barfield, the president of competition, who will host a three member panel to hear the matter and resolve the dispute. The panel will consist of one person selected by Honda and one person selected by GM. The third member will be someone agreed on by both Honda and GM.

Randy Bernard, CEO of IndyCar, said: "It is our job to review, enforce and uphold the current rules. It must be our position to make the best decision possible from the rules that we all established.

It must be our position to make the best decision possible from the rules that we all established.

Randy Benard

In other news Lotus and DDR have agreed to part ways. This comes as a result of Lotus decision to cut its engine support to two of the five teams using the engine. The other team affected is Bryan Herta Autosport.

DDR will have a Lotus engine for the race this weekend in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Bryan Herta Autosport announced on its Facebook page that it was skipping this weekend’s race.

Lotus announced the move on Tuesday in an effort to provide better service to its two other core teams -- Dragon Racing and HVM Racing.

A statement from the company said that consolidating from five to three cars will help Lotus and subcontractor Engine Developments Ltd. make gains against engines from Chevrolet and Honda.

Chevrolet engines have won all three IndyCar Series races in 2012, while Lotus' best finish was ninth place by Dragon's Sebastien Bourdais at Barber Motorsports Park.

The Lotus program got a late start and the company's twin-turbo V-6 engine did not begin track testing until January, some five months after Honda and three months after Chevrolet.

Lotus' problems were compounded by a change of corporate ownership that shut down funding for two months and then suffered further problems when it began using IndyCar's standard-issue electronic control unit (ECU). The Lotus engine is down 30 horsepower on the competition. Straight line speeds at Long Beach were 7 mph slower than other cars.

Bernard has stepped in to help BHA and DRR secure alternate engines for the rest of the season. BHA has reportedly signed with Honda and DRR with Chevrolet. Both manufacturers will supply 12 cars in the races that follow the Indianapolis 500.

"Our focus is on the Brazil race," said DRR co-owner Dennis Reinbold. "We are in the midst of finalizing our future plans and we are talking to the series to conclude that process. We will be making a public statement in the very near future."

Car detail for Oriol Servia, Lotus Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Lotus
Car detail for Oriol Servia, Lotus Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Lotus

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Lotus says it intends to commit additional resources and financial support toward improved engine performance for the rest of the season.

Claudio Berro, director of motorsport for Group Lotus, said, "We are and always will be a niche British sports car company, built for the few not the many. I can assure everybody that this will assist in ensuring the brand's high racing ambitions and the high expectations of the IndyCar community."

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Series INDYCAR
Tags barfield, benard, berroddr, brewer, chevrolet, featured, herta, honda, lotus, reinbold