CHAMPCAR/CART: Ford Racing comments on engine decision

Ford clarifies its position on CART engine situation DEARBORN, Mich., October 18, 2001 - Ford Racing Technology was disappointed by CART's decision on October 4th to adopt new engine rules for the 2003, 2004 and 2005 seasons that call for a ...

Ford clarifies its position on CART engine situation

DEARBORN, Mich., October 18, 2001 - Ford Racing Technology was disappointed by CART's decision on October 4th to adopt new engine rules for the 2003, 2004 and 2005 seasons that call for a normally aspirated engine, up to 3.5 liters in displacement.

"As we stated before, our position is clear: we will not build an engine to any normally aspirated specification for the 2003 season," said Dan Davis, director, Ford Racing Technology. "The major obstacle for our continued participation in CART is return on investment. Ford is not willing to commit the massive resources required to design, develop, and produce a brand new engine and the necessary volume of parts at a significant financial loss in order to participate in a series that today has questionable marketing value.

"The business equation is upside down in that category. Our costs have increased significantly over the past few years, including engine subsidies for our teams, yet our marketing return has declined significantly. These are issues we've discussed at length in the past with CART management, so it should be no surprise that we're surfacing these issues again.

"Ford has participated in good faith with CART in previous discussions about future engine rules with other engine manufacturers, and we viewed alternatives with an open mind hoping to reach a specification agreeable for CART, its teams, and engine manufacturers. But the bottom line is this --we aren't realizing enough value, relative to the cost of participation. We remain hopeful that the series turns around in the very near future. However, given the current economic climate, it's difficult to be patient."

Davis did say that Ford, along with its wholly-owned subsidiary Cosworth Racing, is open to providing a "spec" engine for CART competition in time for the 2003 season. Although initially rejected in the October 4th meetings, the offer from Ford and Cosworth still stands.

"We understand how difficult it is to come to an agreement that will satisfy everyone," said Davis. "We also believe that competition, in combination with non-restrictive rules, has escalated the cost of CART engines to a level that is not sustainable in the long run. At this point, rules alone will not reduce spending, and only the removal of competition will substantially reduce costs."

That said, the Ford and Cosworth proposal for a spec engine, based on the current XF engine, is likely to provide many benefits to competition, including:

* Fixed price significantly lower than current engine leases
* No fuel economy modes
* No need for Hanford wings because of the reduction in horsepower
* No power differences between teams regardless of financial resources
* No ability to introduce driver aids, such as traction control
* Improved engine reliability, ensuring more cars competing at the end of races, and fewer rebuilds
* In line with CART's strategy of being the most technologically-advanced form of open wheel racing

"We are ready and willing to work with CART to make this program happen," said Davis. "We are ready and able to produce engines to supply the entire CART field under this scenario, do it at a reduced cost to the teams, and in a way, in our opinion, that will actually improve competition throughout the field."

-Ford Racing Technology-

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Series IndyCar