Director of GM Racing Mark Kent says Chevrolet and Honda have worked with IndyCar to devise the next engine formula – possibly to be introduced in 2020 – to keep it “fair for everybody” should a third OEM enter the series.
Kent, introducing Rob Buckner as Chevy’s new program manager for IndyCar [click here for interview with Buckner] said that he didn’t want a third manufacturer benefiting from the last six years of research and development undertaken on behalf of Chevy by Ilmor, and by HPD for Honda.
“We've been working hand-in-hand with both IndyCar and Honda to develop the next formula," said Kent. "The real goal of the next formula was to make it fair for everybody if a new manufacturer came to the series.
Jay Frye, IndyCar’s president of competitions and operations, told Motorsport.com last month that the series was aiming for a 100-150hp power boost from the next-gen engines. Frye also stated that a third manufacturer could arrive in 2020 if the decision was made imminently, but is more likely to join in 2021 if the decision is delayed until later in the year.
That would coincide with the introduction of the next-gen engines, said Kent.
“If you're a new manufacturer coming into the series, we didn't want to allow a new manufacturer to take what we've learned for six years now and catapult past us by watching what we've done,” he said. “So we've created a new formula with IndyCar that will come out here in the future, with or without a new manufacturer.
“It will be one that will get us back on a level starting point so it will be a fair competition when we all hit the track.”
Back to 2018, and regarding Indy 500 entries – which appear to be set for 35 or 36 cars competing for the 33 grid slots – Kent joked: “If history repeats itself, there's 33 cars that start! I think the last few years have been 33 or 34 cars that have tried to start the race. Historically we've had about half the field.
“I would imagine probably a 17/17 split with Honda. If there are more cars that want to try to qualify, we're definitely in a position to support some more cars.”