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Chevy loses final turbocharger appeal

11 May 2012

The final appeal by Chevrolet against IndyCar's decision to allow Honda to upgrade the turbochargers in their engines been denied by retired Indiana Supreme Court Justice Theodore R. Boehm.

The decision is final and binding, and cannot be further appealed.

It means that Honda will be able to continue using the new 0.71 A/R compressor cover for their single turbocharger system for the rest of 2012, after having been initially introduced at Sao Paulo.

Honda originally wanted to introduce the upgrade at Long Beach and were given clearance to do so by IZOD IndyCar Series officials. However, Chevrolet subsequently lodged an official protest against the decision that forced Honda to roll back the change before the California street race.

The protest lead to a formal review of the decision after the Long Beach race by IndyCar's vice president of technology Will Phillips, together with Tony Cotman who is the project manager responsible for overseeing the development of the new chassis and engine specifications for 2012. Both men concluded that Honda's proposed change was within the series rules.

Chevrolet then exercised their option to force a formal appeals hearing that was finally held on Thursday, April 26, in which a three-person panel again concluded by endorsing IndyCar's original decision on the matter. Chevrolet went on to exercise its right of final appeal, and IndyCar's president of operations and strategy Brian Barnhart appointed Justice Boehm to hear the appeal and make the binding adjudication.

The final appeal hearing was conducted in Indianapolis on May 9, with Justice Boehm then taking two further days to consider the evidence before publishing his ruling on Friday afternoon.

"We are pleased that Justice Boehm's ruling has again confirmed IndyCar's initial step to address parity of the Series-mandated single and twin turbochargers," said Steve Eriksen, vice president of development at Honda's American motor racing subsidiary, after the ruling was announced. "We eagerly look forward to continuing our battle with Chevrolet and Lotus as practice sessions for the Indianapolis 500, 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing', begin this weekend."

Throughout the process, Honda has contended that the series rulebook had been written with the express intention of allowing the engine suppliers to make changes during the season to ensure parity between engines using single BorgWarner turbocharger units (as Honda engines do) and those that use the twin turbo system (such as Chevrolet and Lotus' units.)

It was clear from early in the 2012 season that Honda's engine was underperforming compared with the Chevrolet, whose cars have won all four street and road course races so far this year. Honda duly sought permission to change the compressor cover to increase the power of the engine and its throttle responsiveness to put them on an even footing.

"This has been IndyCar's intention ever since the matter first came under discussion in late 2010," added Honda.

General Motors - the parent company of Chevrolet - continues to be unhappy with the decision to allow Honda to make the change.

“Despite the ruling from the appeal hearing, GM's position on this has not changed," said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet's US Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports in response to the appeal ruling. "Yes, we are disappointed with the decision. All we've asked from the beginning is that the existing rules and engine regulations be applied fairly."

However, Campbell dismissed suggestions that the ruling would cause Chevrolet to reconsider its involvement with the IZOD IndyCar Series, just months after they returned as engine suppliers to the series after a seven year hiatus.

"We remain committed to competing at the highest level in the IndyCar Series," he insisted.

Under IndyCar's rule 13.11, the decision cannot be further disputed by Chevrolet and the matter is concluded, just one day ahead of the official start of track activity for all teams at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 96th running of the Indy 500.


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