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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lotus Steps Up For 2012

The addition of Chevrolet to the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series engine manufacturer lineup was a monumental revitalizing moment in the series' history, bringing back engine competition to the sport for the first time since 2005 and exciting plenty of fans along the way.

But if Chevrolet's announcement last week planted a seed, consider today's announcement one that asserts the series fully in bloom.

Group Lotus, which has recently announced the rapid expansion of its motorsports programs and had already been planning on an IndyCar aero kit for 2012, chose the night before the public opening of this year's Los Angeles Auto Show to announce their foray into IndyCar engine production. Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard, and 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones were among those in attendance.

A longtime Formula 1 competitor, Lotus debuted their rear-engined, Ford-powered cars at Indianapolis in 1963, where they finished second to Jones with driver Jim Clark. Clark won the Indianapolis 500 in 1965 with the car, although Lotus pulled out a relatively short time later. The brand returned to the sport this year, backing Takuma Sato's effort with KV Racing Technology.

Specs on the engine were not yet released, suggesting the brand may look to ally with another company, or even still be mulling its own engine design.

While KVRT partner Kevin Kalkhoven owns Cosworth, a longtime IndyCar engine builder with a dozen Indy 500 wins, and Fords powered the Lotus Indy entries of the past, representatives from no other engine suppliers were present at the announcement. If Lotus goes its own route, it may open the door for Cosworth to produce an Alfa Romeo powerplant, as has been rumored in recent days.

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