Ran into Honda's motorsport boss Erik Berkman in the IndyCar paddock Saturday morning and we talked about the status of the next generation IndyCar engine. Originally the IRL was hoping to have a new car and engine formula by 2011 but "the deadline to make 2011 was to have 90% of the engine formula rules nailed down by the end of 2008," said Berkman.
"And I don't mean the number of cylinders the engine will have and whether it will be turbocharged or not, I mean 90% of the details agreed to so we could start our preliminary designs.
"And likewise, we have until the end of this year (2009) to have the details ironed out to meet 2012," added Berkman.
With regard to Honda's desire to see the new formula be 6-cylinders and VW/Audi's desire for a 4-cylinder formula, Berkman said Honda was open to some form of equivalency formula but "we would have to see how the IRL proposes to manage that. They would have to make sure that performance levels are relatively equal."
"What we would not want to see are rule changes every race to keep everyone equal, that would be too costly. I think maybe once a year is about right.
"We want to allow some development. You might lock down 90% of the engine and allow development in the other 10%. I'm not sure exactly how it will play out, but we all agreed to three basic tenants 1) The new formula would be Environmentally Responsible (could mean clean fuels, KERS at some point, etc.), 2) Production car relevant, 3) Cost Conscious."
As for the possibility of a KERS type system for IndyCar since electric cars are the current craze in the production world, Berkman said, "We agreed to not include it initially due to cost, but we did not preclude adding it at a later date should it make sense. It would probably have to be some sort of 'spec' system to keep costs down and an equal playing field." Mark C. reporting from St. Pete
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