Penske's Helio Castroneves believes Indianapolis 500 pole lap speeds could exceed 235mph when the IndyCar series introduces its new engine that is predicted to produce more than 900hp.
Castroneves qualified sixth fastest for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 with an average of 228mph. Ed Carpenter set his third Indy 500 pole after going 230mph across his four qualifying laps.
The new engine framework is set to feature a 2.4-litre twin-turbo V6 powerplant with an initial goal of 900hp, potentially rising to 1000hp by 2026 after year-by-year development.
IndyCar has used 2.2-liter turbocharged engines producing between 550-700bhp since IndyCar switched to the DW12 chassis at the start of the 2012 season.
“When you’re talking about 900 horsepower, definitely 230[mph] is probably going to be the midfield”, said Castroneves. “You’re going to start talking about 234, 235. It’s huge.
“You’re definitely going to have some lifting like there used to be a long time ago. It will change the way you perform here for sure.”
Two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk holds the qualifying record at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, set in 1996, with a one-lap record of 237.498mph and a record four-lap average of 236.986.
Qualifying speeds were in the 220s from 2004 to 2013 until Ed Carpenter broke the 230mph barrier in 2014. This was beaten twice in 3 years from 2015 to 2017.
The new engine development is part of IndyCar’s campaign to attract a third manufacturer to the series.
Testing on the new engine will start in the summer of 2020 ahead of its debut for the ‘21 IndyCar season.
Three-time Indy 500 winner Castroneves is competing in this weekend’s race as a two-off [along with Indy GP two weeks ago] after switching to Penske’s new IMSA SportsCar Championship for 2018.
He joined Penske in 2000 and was the first of Roger’s drivers to reach the 30-win mark.
“I said it before, I should have stuck around”, says Castroneves. “I’m definitely going to stick around. I’m going to be making friends, continue to be with Team Penske hopefully.
“But no question, it’s a great opportunity.”
by Luke Chillingsworth