IRL cars run on 100% Ethanol for first time

A new era was unleashed Tuesday for IndyCar racing.

The new Honda 3.5-liter V-8 racing engine made a successful debut on the 2.73-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway with two cars making a “trouble free" testing session.

It marked the first time in open-wheel competition that IndyCar engines ran on 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol as former series champions Tony Kanaan and Sam Hornish Jr. made impressive runs with the IndyCar Series’ latest engine configuration. The IRL 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.

“We ran the 3.5 liter engine with the 100 percent ethanol and it’s running great," said Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar Series champion. “We did a bunch of laps and it ran perfect. We have a couple of things to adjust mapping-wise because it’s a different fuel, but so far it’s good. When you come to test, you have to concentrate on what you’ve come to do."

Kanaan and Hornish Jr. ran the new 3.5-liter Honda engines on 100 percent ethanol in their Dallara cars while drivers Scott Dixon and Vitor Meira tested their machines in 2006 race trim with 3-liter Honda motors utilizing the 2006 fuel mixture of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent methanol. All drivers clocked consistently in the 75-second range on the motorcycle road course.

“The new engine feels good and it will get better with more testing," said Hornish Jr., the defending series champion and Indy 500 winner. “Everyone is still learning about the engine and the fuel right now. We have another day to test on Wednesday."

In addition to the new fuel and engine in the test, the day marked the first time since 1959 that IndyCars had run at the famed Daytona track. The IndyCars raced on the 2.5-mile oval in 1959.

The Honda engineers were pleased after the first test day with the latest IndyCar engine and the running of 100 percent ethanol fuel.

"The day went very well for us," said Roger Griffiths, Race Team Technical Leader, Honda Performance Development. “I haven't seen the mileage figures yet, but all four drivers ran the entire day without any significant mechanical issues with either the old engine or the new 3.5-liter ethanol fueled engine. Despite the high temperatures and humidity, there were no heat issues with the new engine, either. Based on the information gathered today, we are going to make a few fuel-mapping adjustments to the ethanol-fueled engines this evening, and then we'll be all ready to go tomorrow."

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