the return of competition
f. peirce Williams/LAt
chevy had numbers
on its side when it
came to top-shelf
teams. roger penske
(Left) was among the
big guns signing on for
the Bowtie’s successful
return. But as well as
an indy 500 win,
honda could look back
on a podium sweep at
Detroit Grand prix
(BeLo W) as another
two Borg Warner-supplied turbos; the
required use of E85 ethanol; a minimum
weight of 112. 5 kgs (248lbs); a maximum
vee angle of 90 degrees; width, length
and height limitations, and a host of other
defined parameters to contend with.
Pistons, wastegates, fuel injection,
coatings and few more items were open for
development, but the two engine builders –
former partners – produced engines with
more than a few visual similarities.
What they did inside their engines,
however, is a point of mutual intrigue.
“We could look at the Chevy engine and
make an estimate on what we think the vee
angle is and things like that,” says Griffiths,
whose engine appeared to be somewhere
close to Chevy, in the 82-degree range.
“Did we both end up with the same
bore-stroke ratio? Did we end up with
the same firing configuration? I don’t
know. I think we both took different
approaches on the fuel system and just
how much direct injection was being
used. We each did our own wastegates
and we liked the packaging of the single
turbo, but the real differences – the real
details – are hidden on the inside.”
The choice of turbo packages, as the
Turbogate experience demonstrated,
revealed that all was not perhaps equal in
the world of forced induction.
After being told by the series that
airflow equality would be established
between the single and twin turbos,
Honda went the more traditional single
turbo route for the packaging, sidepod
airflow and other benefits that it
presented…at least on paper.
But as HPD soon learned, the single
turbo’s smaller-than-expected inlet cover
meant the Hondas couldn’t get enough
HPD AND ILMOR:
A HOUSE DIVIDED
From 2003 until
the end of the 2011
was a supporting
partner of Honda
Indy V8. Now, HPD
(BELOW, left) and
Bennett (right) are
head to head, thanks
to Ilmor leading build
and development on
Chevy’s IndyCar V6.
air into the compressor, and as a result,
throttle response and performance figures
suffered. A new inlet cover improved the
situation, but with a season of hindsight
to draw upon, Griffiths concedes that
choosing the pair of smaller Borg Warner
might have been the better way to go.
“I think if we had a much clearer idea
about how all this turbo thing would have
played out, and that parity may not actually
be parity, there could well have been a
different decision there,” he acknowledges.
“Had we known that we were going to
end up using time and energy to defend
the single turbo position, and that we
were always going to have one hand tied
behind our back, then, yes, we might’ve
Testing new developments for 2013 has
already begun. Of known items that Ilmor
and HPD are working on, the biggest gains
should come from all-new fuel systems.
“The rules allow for more latitude with
fuel systems and direct injection next
year,” says Bennett. “I think the
manufacturers did the best they could with
DI in the time we had, but I’d expect to see
a lot of emphasis placed there by us and
Honda. We’ve only scratched the surface.”
IndyCar’s move to small-displacement,
At least it sounded different...
parsing through the season-long
train wreck that was the Lotus indycar
Series engine program left very few
positives to note, other than the
throaty, basso voice the 2.2-liter,
twin-turbo V6 produced.
the well-known story of Lotus’s late
decision to badge engines in the series,
rushed efforts to select an engine
builder (uK-based engine Developments
Ltd. accepted the challenge) and
drop-in-a-bucket budget conspired to
hamper the program from the outset.
But if we ignore its on-track results,
eDL’s V6, codenamed the “Dc,” actually
had a bit of potential.
it was the lightest unit among indycar’s
three manufacturers, had the widest
vee angle (at or close to the maximum
90 degrees), a low center of gravity, and
made use of an alternative firing angle.
the Dc was the least conventional engine
in the series, which gave it immense
headroom, but the time and money
required to maximize eDL’s alternative
approach never materialized.
the Dc’s deficiencies, including
season-long engine failures, a lack of direct
injection, insufficient power, woeful torque,
poor throttle response, troubles running
full boost, continual shortages of engine
components and mysterious vibrations,
made for a brutal season for its users.
And while its rivals initially suffered while
learning the ways of the spec mcLaren
ecu, it took eDL much longer to corral its
rev, boost and shift-cut strategies.
come the indianapolis 500, Lotus
had but a single full-season user left in
the championship: hVm racing.
fittingly, Lotus’s time as an indycar
engine supplier expired at the fontana
finale – right along with the engine in
Simona de Silvestro’s hVm entry.
the other Gu YS
As other Lotus-powered teams switched to
chevy and honda, hVm plowed grimly on.