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IRL has 2nd meeting with 5 engine manufacturers
Indy Racing League officials and prospective manufacturers of the next generation of IndyCar Series engine retired from Round 2 of discussions Sept. 17 with homework assignments due in six weeks.

The sanctioning body has targeted introduction of new engine and chassis specifications for the 2011 IndyCar Series season -- the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 - with a desire for multiple manufacturer participation in the engine program. Dallara will be the sole supplier of the chassis, which also is currently on the drawing board.

"We had a couple of good days of meetings with (five) manufacturers back in town in a continuation of the process begun in late June with the initial roundtable," said Brian Barnhart, the Indy Racing League's president of competition and operations, who noted that this round of talks purposely did not include engine rebuild shop representatives who were present at the initial roundtable.

"We're very encouraged again by their participation and enthusiasm about potentially joining the series. We clearly went in to more specifics than in our June meeting and made a lot of progress toward defining the potential specs for 2011, and were encouraged by the fact that they're all very much interested in continuing this process."

The timeline for defining a spec and receiving a commitment from manufacturers to replace the workhorse Honda Indy V8, which has been the stalwart sole power plant for the IndyCar Series since 2006, remains the end of the calendar year. That would allow proper lead time for design/development and manufacturing for full-scale testing in 2010. Honda was one of the five manufacturers represented at the latest meetings in Indianapolis.

Barnhart said there's a consensus on about 70 percent of the package. That's where the homework assignments come in -- to arrive at answers that completely satisfy all entities in regards to the performance levels the sanctioning body is expecting on the variety pack of oval and street/road courses well beyond 2011.

"There are so many aspects to it; we're still looking at areas that would be open and closed for development and the homologation period," Barnhart said. "We haven't completely defined what the RPM would be, that kind of stuff.

"The homework assignments for the engine manufacturers are to make sure they have a comfort level with the power required to meet those performance levels in addition to the durability requirements and cost parameters we're looking for. We're going to work with Dallara and Firestone in terms of the chassis and tire portion of the package to see what can be done in terms of grip levels, downforce and drag levels to create the performance levels we're looking for.

"That's really where it goes to. If the performance levels can be met that we're expecting combining chassis, tires and the horsepower levels, then we've settled on a spec. It's important for us to integrate all of it with the diverse schedule that we run."

Individual follow-up conference calls will continue, with a third round of formal discussions tentatively scheduled for late October. IndyCar.com

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