Honda and Toyota to stay?

With rumors that NASCAR has told Toyota to stay in the IRL longer to help them out coupled with rumors Toyota is not moving up to the NASCAR Busch Series next year as rumored, it's looking like perhaps both Honda and Toyota will remain in the IRL past 2006. Based on comments in this article, it appears both manufacturers are planning for the future with the IRL. Whether it's because there's talk of a merger with Champ Car is anyone's guess, but everyone knows that the sport needs much more than the Danica Patrick mania to turn around.

From The IndyCar Series has still not determined technical specifications for its future engine formula, set for introduction in 2007. For the better part of the last year, IndyCar Series founder Tony George has hinted that he would like the series to mandate much simpler engine architecture in an effort to reduce costs.

However, he has encountered resistance from Honda and Toyota, which would prefer to maintain a relatively high level of technology and the manufacturer lease-and-service engine programs that have been successfully used in CART (now Champ Car) and the IndyCar Series for the better part of 20 years.

"We've been in a series of meetings with the IRL in the last year or so talking about future engines and a lot of the talk was about having to get back to outside engine builders," said Toyota racing development vice president (and IndyCar Series program manager) John Faivre. "Some of the guys who were around in the early days of the IRL said, 'Don't glamorize that because that was really a bad deal. We had four or five engines blow up every race and that would cause accidents.'"

From Honda's perspective, the current engine costs in the IndyCar Series are quite reasonable. "We weren't involved then, but in 2002, my understanding is that an IRL engine program cost teams somewhere between $1.0 and 1.5 million," said Honda Performance Development president Robert Clarke. "Our standard lease right now is $1.7 million, so if you take inflation into consideration, we're right where they were. And that's about half of what a CART program cost in 2002.

"They are getting a very competitive, very reliable, professionally serviced and supplied product for basically what they were paying before," Clarke continued. "So I think the engine cost to the team is quite reasonable, though the manufacturers are eating a huge cost. On the other hand, it's pretty difficult for the IRL to control development. That is driven more by the need for the manufacturer to compete and win and the value they feel they get out of it."

Toyota's Faivre said that costs have also been reduced by the sheer dependability of the factory engine programs common to the IndyCar Series since 2003.

"The main difference you see is the reliability," he remarked. "I think there was only one engine failure I saw in the Indianapolis 500, and there weren't more than four or five engine failures in the month, which is fairly incredible when you think about the miles. Our engines alone did more than 20,800 miles."

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By :