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Chevy orders all teams to change engines

It's the first blot on the Chevy copybook, after the engine manufacturer dominated qualifying at the first race in St Petersburg and won both of the first two races of the 2012 season with Penske's Castroneves and Power.

But the mass penalty hands a huge advantage to the Honda-powered teams at Long Beach. So far, Honda have suffered just one engine-related problem, with Simon Pagenaud getting a ten-place penalty at St Petersburg.

Lotus have had two engine changes in the first two races of the season with Alex Taliani and Oriol Servia, and it was earlier confirmed that Sébastien Bourdais would have to change his engine going into Long Beach and will also have a grid penalty to serve.

The en masse Chevy engine switch is likely to increase disquiet in the sport about the teams and drivers being hit by penalties for something that is wholly out of their control, as they have normally no internal access to the sealed units.

Even before the news about the Chevy engine change broke, new IndyCar president of competition Beaux Barfield had said that he shared fans' pain over the teams being penalised in this way and planned to hold a meeting with everyone concerned at the earliest opportunity. [See separate story.]

Barfield was particularly concerned that the current rules can discourage teams from testing the new Dallara chassis and new-specification V6 turbo-charged engines that the series has just introduced at the start of the season.

"Inadvertently putting a regulation out there that disincentivises testing, that is absolutely not what we want," he said on Wednesday.

The irony is that Hinchliffe's engine failure in testing is exactly what highlighted the issue that has now led to Chevrolet's decision to replace all of its engines for Long Beach. If teams weren't participating in the test sessions to catch such developmental issues, then there would have been the risk of an embarrassing and damaging widespread failure during the Sunday afternoon race itself.

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Ryan Hunter-Reay in the 2012 IndyCar Dallara, with Chevrolet power. [Picture copyright: General Motors and Wieck Media Services, Inc]
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MichaelMS-25 - Unregistered

April 13, 2012 10:36 AM

The irony is, though, that the penalty as it currently stands was introduced at the specific request of the engine manufacturers, not by Indy Car or the teams. In fact, the biggest supporter and pusher of the regulation was Chevrolet, as they didn't want to be outspent/out-tested by Honda.

Boo - Unregistered

April 13, 2012 6:56 AM

Though I'm all for introducing penalties to ensure engines aren't made to break after one race, it seems a bit harsh to have it in place for new engine manufacturers like Chevrolet and Lotus (perhaps even Honda), particularly as the car isn't new either. By all means introduce later in the season, or offer a 3 engine leeway or something, because a move like this with about 12 drivers having penalties, undermines the racing a bit.

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