Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lotus Makes Announcement At LA Auto Show For The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Season

Lotus Cars booth art at the LA Auto Show where a new competitive partnership between Lotus and three teams for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar season was announced. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

Lotus Makes Announcement At LA Auto Show For The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Season

Just one short year after Lotus Motorsport announced its agreement with KV Racing Technology to supply engines and livery for the 2012 season, Lotus was back at the LA Auto Show Press days to announce a change in their team selection(s) for the 2012 season.

The deal involves three teams for the engine, not just one, and may power as many as four (currently committed) to six cars during the season, including the Indy 500, depending on how many drivers are picked up by the three teams - Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Bryan Herta Autosport and HVM Racing.

Owners of the teams who have signed on to the Lotus Motorsport engine partnership for the IZOD IndyCar Series 2012 season. From L to R - Robbie Buhl, and Dennis Reinbold of DRR, Keith Wiggins of HVM, and Bryan Herta of BHA. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

In making agreements with these three teams, Lotus Motorsport shows it is making a commitment to the IZOD IndyCar Series competition that other engine manufacturers have not made to the the opportunity to showcase their mark created by the new approach that Randy Bernard has made possible since the unification of open wheel racing based in North America. Lotus will be joining Chevrolet and Honda as the IZOD IndyCar engine manufacturers to compete in 2012.

Group Lotus Director of Motorsport Operations, Miodrag Kotur said: “At the LA show last year, we announced that we will be an engine supplier to IndyCar and exactly 12 months on, we are here with an all new Lotus engine and three teams, ready to go. The numbers that the engine is already achieving in our dyno testing are extremely encouraging so our hard work is well and truly paying off.”

Group Lotus Director of Motorsport Operations, Miodrag Kotur. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

“These partnerships with Bryan Herta Autosport, Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, and HVM Racing mean a great deal to Lotus Motorsport and mark the start of a new chapter for Lotus in the IZOD IndyCar Series. We’re thrilled that these already successful and illustrious teams have chosen Lotus, as we believe that our capabilities as a partner will pay dividends for them in the future. These three teams have immediately become part of the Lotus legend and have joined us in our journey as one of the most innovative and successful sports and racing car brands in the world.”

It is understood through comments made at the LA Auto Show announcement that Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will be responsible for a majority amount of on-track testing and off-track research and development activities. DRR is planning to run two cars full time in 2012 with an additional planned entry for the Indianapolis 500 showcase event.

Dennis Reinblod (center) and Robbie Buhl share a moment with Kieth Wiggins during the Lotus partnership announcement at the LA Auto Show on Thursday, November 17, 2011. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

“To enter into a partnership with Lotus as a factory partner team is a huge step for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing,” said Dennis Reinbold, DRR co-owner with Robbie Buhl. “In working closely with the team at Lotus over the past few months, we have had unique access and awareness of their strong commitment to the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. Many of our collective efforts are already underway and we could not be more enthusiastic about this offseason’s testing and development program.”

Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA) won the 100th anniversary Indy 500 on May 29 with Dan Wheldon, who was fatally injured in a multiple-car crash on lap 11 in the final race of the 2011 season held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 16.

Bryan Herta did not have far to drive to attend this announcement since he lives in Southern California. Here Bryan (right side of photo) talks with the rest of his IZOD IndyCar "Loti", as in plural, mates (L to R) - IndyCar President Randy Bernard, DDR's Robbie Buhl, HVM's Kieth Wiggins, DDR's Dennis Reinblod, and of course Bryan Herta. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

BHA, which served as the official test team for the Dallara DW12 chassis, is expecting to turn their first laps with Lotus power in January. BHA plans to be a full-time entrant in the series in 2012 for the first year. It will announce a driver and sponsorship in the coming weeks.

“Obviously, this is an incredibly exciting step for us,” said Herta. “Our goal all along has been to build our foundation to eventually compete as a full-time entrant in the series. To partner with Lotus, which has such a rich history and tradition in racing including at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is just tremendous. All of us are looking forward to working closely with Lotus to support their efforts.”

As far as which team would sport the livery of Lotus Motorsport green and yellow as KV Racing Technology did last year with its three cars driven by Tony Kanaan, Takuma Sato, and EJ Viso? ... after asking the owners of the three teams in the Lotus booth at the LA Auto Show, Keith Wiggins of HVM gave a nod and a smile in the affirmative (after all, he only lived just a few miles away from the Lotus facility headquartered in England).

Kieth Wiggins, Owner of HVM Racing on the announcement of entering into an agreement to race with Lotus engines. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

“Despite the choices, once it was apparent that Lotus would produce an engine it was a clear decision for us to run with them,” said HVM Racing owner Keith Wiggins, whose team fielded Simona de Silvestro during the 2011 season in the No. 78 Dallara/Honda. “I have great respect, confidence and enthusiasm in the product they will produce. I have good historical knowledge of the companies involved and their abilities. Being the first team to commit reflects this and being an integral part of the Lotus development process is important to re-establishment of HVM as a leading team, this time in the IZOD IndyCar Series.”

The Lotus V-6 has been designed and is undergoing testing at Engine Development Ltd. in the United Kingdom, a company owned by longtime IndyCar engine-builder John Judd. The engine is expected to make its on-track debut, mounted in a DRR Dallara DW12, in early January.

... notes from The EDJE

<Article first published as Lotus Makes Announcement At LA Auto Show For The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Season at Technorati>

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