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Honda signs up Sam Schmidt team for 2012

5 August 2011

Honda Performance Development (HPD) has confirmed that Sam Schmidt Motorsports is the third team to sign on with it for engines in 2012.

"Honda's success both on and off the track is unmatched," team owner Sam Schmidt said at the announcement. "I believe its total commitment to performance, reliability and integrity as a company is perfectly aligned with the goals of Sam Schmidt Motorsports and its partners.

"We look forward to what we hope will be a long and very productive relationship."

The deal covers all Sam Schmidt Motorsports entries in the 2012 IndyCar season as well as any additional entries run for the Indianapolis 500. This weekend, the team will field Alex Tagliani in the #77 and Martin Plowman in his series d├ębut in the #17 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Honda is currently the sole engine supplier to IndyCar, but from 2012 with the introduction of a new specification of turbocharged 2.2-litre Honda Indy V-6 engine, there will be competition to supply teams from Chevrolet and Lotus.

Honda are still thought to be the favourite choice of most teams - not least because of there years of exclusive experience in IndyCar racing - and so far they have signed deals with Target Chip Ganassi Racing in May and last month with AJ Foyt Racing.

Chevrolet have signed up Ganassi's arch rivals Team Penske, with Roger Penske one of the prime movers in bringing the engine makers back to the series. Lotus have yet to announce any signings, with even the co-branded KV Racing Technology-Lotus team thought to be unlikely to go with Lotus engines in the first year of supplier competition.

Erik Berkman, president of HPD, spoke warmly of Sam Schimidt's "decade of achievements - and four championships - in Indy Lights," and "impressive results" since stepping up to the senior series full time earlier this year after several seasons of fielding stand-alone Indianapolis 500 entries. The team put Alex Tagliani on pole position for this year's Indy 500 in May.

"We believe that Sam, team manager Rob Edwards and the rest of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports team have established a solid foundation for future success," said Berkman. "We look forward to working with them to achieve our joint goals of race wins and IndyCar Series championships."

The new Honda engine will be the first power unit to be ready for next season and will be used in the on-track testing of the series' new Dallara chassis and safety cell which starts next week at Mid-Ohio, to be undertaken by Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta Autosport.


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