Honda 3.5-Liter V-8 runs smoothly Ethanol
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The IRL IndyCar® Series completed a successful two-day testing session Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway as the new 3.5-liter Honda V-8 ran flawlessly on 100 percent fuel grade ethanol.
Past series champions Sam Hornish Jr. and Tony Kanaan utilized the new engine configuration in their respective racing machines, the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Honda Dallara Firestone and the No. 11 7-Eleven Honda Dallara Firestone, during the first runs at Daytona since 1959 when IndyCars competed on the fame 2.5-mile oval.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Hornish Jr. and Kanaan, along with Vitor Meira, Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon in 2006 model Honda-powered cars, drove on the 2.73-mile road course inside the oval track.
There were no official times during the two days but Kanaan’s best lap of one minute, 13.4 seconds was unofficially the quickest of the event.
The new Honda 3.5-liter V-8 racing engine ran 329 laps for 610 miles with Hornish and Kanaan during the “trouble free” session that was highlighted by a strong media turnout and many interested spectators.
The Daytona test was the initial showing of IndyCar engines running on 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol as the IndyCar Series will be the first major auto racing series to utilize a renewable fuel source in all of its racing cars during the 2007 racing campaign.
“The new engine feels like it has more power,” said Hornish Jr., the defending series champion and Indy 500 winner. “It definitely has more power off the corners. The drivers will have to do the traction control with their foot now. I think it’s going to make things a lot more exciting with having that little more torque in the lower end of the engine. I think they’re trying to keep the top end the same so at places like Texas and Indy we’ll run similar speeds as last year. But at the road courses, we’ll be faster. I think it will be good. I think the 100 percent ethanol seems to be running smoothly.”
“We worked on our suspension setups more than anything today (Wednesday),” said Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar Series champion. “There were no problems with the new Honda engine and running the 100 percent ethanol fuel. I think the new combination will be good in 2007.”
The IndyCar Series introduced ethanol as a racing fuel in 2006 with all of its cars utilizing a fuel mixture of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent methanol. In 2007, all of the cars’ 3.5-liter Honda V-8 engines will run on 100 percent fuel grade ethanol.
The new 3.5-liter Honda V-8 engine configuration also will extend the reliability to 1500 miles before an engine rebuild during the 2007 season.
“We came away from the test pretty satisfied, ",” said Roger Griffiths, Race Team Technical Leader, Honda Performance Development. “There still is some 'fine tuning' to accomplish with the various engine controls, but all-in-all this was an excellent first test for the 2007 spec Honda 3.5-liter IndyCar engine and 100% fuel-grade ethanol. We were able to run a lot of laps over the two days, and gathered enough information in the first day to make some initial software changes over night. We applied those changes today on the ethanol cars driven by Tony [Kanaan] and Sam [Hornish Jr.] and saw further improvements, and that's always encouraging. We'll take this information back with us and then go on to the oval test next week at Indianapolis."
The 2007 IRL IndyCar Series will open on March 24 on the 1.5-mile oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway.