CHAMPCAR/CART: Ford Homestead oil leak easily fixed

The Ford-Cosworth XF engine, at the hands of Max Papis and Roberto Moreno, lived up to its pre-season billing by finishing 1-2 in the Miami Grand Prix in Homestead, Fla., on Sunday. Since Ford and Cosworth re-entered the series together back...

The Ford-Cosworth XF engine, at the hands of Max Papis and Roberto Moreno, lived up to its pre-season billing by finishing 1-2 in the Miami Grand Prix in Homestead, Fla., on Sunday.

Since Ford and Cosworth re-entered the series together back in 1992, Sunday's victory in the Miami Grand Prix marked the first time that a Ford-Cosworth badged Champ Car engine took the checkered flag in its maiden outing since Ford returned to the sport in 1992. Its predecessors, the XB in 1992 and the XD in 1996, were unable to win their first time out. However, there were some moments of concern early on in the race when three of the fastest cars on the track, Michael Andretti, Adrian Fernandez and Kenny Brack, were forced to retire with oil leaks. The problem was readily identified by Cosworth race engineers, but was unfortunately something that could not be fixed in the pits.

The problem, which is not inherent with the design or inner-workings of the new XF powerplant, centered around an o-ring and jelly joint, which had worked itself loose due to temperature and vibration on the three cars. Ian Bisco, vice president, Cosworth Racing discusses the problem and how the engineers will fix the problem prior to the April 9th race in Nazareth.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE OIL LEAK PROBLEMS THAT SIDELINED ANDRETTI, FERNANDEZ AND BRACK IN SUNDAY'S RACE?

Ian Bisco, vice president, Cosworth Racing:
"The problem developed in the Newman-Haas cars in the morning warm-up and we made a temporary fix we hoped would work. As soon as it happened in the race, we immediately suspected the same problem occurred again. The problem itself revolves around an oil feed pipe, a cast aluminum pipe that goes from the oil pump to the engine, which is the main oil supply pipe to the engine. There is an o-ring jelly joint at both ends of the pipe and it allows the pipe a certain amount of movement to absorb vibration so it doesn't crack. It appears that the actual o-ring seal, where the two o-rings sit, caused the tolerances of the piece to stacked up which contributed to the failure in the part, and under pressure, those increased tolerances allowed the o-ring to work its way out."

HOW EASY IS IT TO FIX THE PROBLEM?
"It's a pretty easy fix. Because it's an external part that bolts between the pump and the engine, we can fix it pretty easy. What we have to do is either manufacture a shim to fit in there or remanufacture the flanges where the o-rings fit to ensure the coupling has a higher tolerance so they can't pop out."

WITH ALL THE MILES THE XF HAD ON IT, WHY DID THE PROBLEM DEVELOP ALL OF THE SUDDEN DURING THE RACE?
"We can do all the testing we want, but until you get in a race situation there are always going to be unanswered variables. There is no substitute for racing when you take into consideration the heat soak, pit stops, hot temperatures - just that little bit of expansion in the part could because of a number of different variables contribute to this problem happening when it did. It's a small detail problem we have to work through, and given the fact that the new XF ran the way it did, and we won the race, we have to be very pleased with the outlook for the remainder of the season. It's just too bad, because without the problems, we had a legitimate shot of sweeping the top-five positions."

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Max Papis , Roberto Moreno , Kenny Brack