The IndyCar Series has announced a partnership with APEX-Brasil that will make the trade promotion agency the official ethanol supplier to the championship from next year.
The move is being made in an effort to communicate the many options in which ethanol can be produced and to enhance its position as a global commodity, with a multi-year deal bringing APEX-Brasil on board as an official partner of the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis 500. It also includes co-operation from the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association, UNICA, to identify those interested in supplying ethanol to the series. Initially, UNICA will look to partner a US-based company to supply the series, which has led the way in embracing renewable fuels since 2006, with corn-based ethanol.
One of the primary messages of the new partnership is that regardless of the sources used in the production of ethanol - corn, sugarcane, or various cellulosic materials in the future - the end product is identical, a clean, renewable bio-fuel that reduces dependence on fossil fuels and combats one of the major causes of climate change.
“The move to other sources of ethanol is a natural progression as the ethanol industry continues to grow and evolve,” explained IRL commercial president Terry Angstadt, “We continue to strive to be on the leading edge of the 'greening' of racing. The IndyCar Series was the first motorsports series to mandate use of a renewable fuel, and now we will work with the ethanol industry in both the United States and Brazil to promote the use of all types of ethanol by consumers.
"During our recent manufacturer round tables, the participating engine companies were enthusiastic about our potential use of various sources of ethanol, and we feel this move is another step in the right direction with our goal of introducing a new engine and chassis by the 2011 season.”
A year ago, the US and Brazilian governments signed a memorandum of understanding on bio-fuels with the particular aim of consolidating ethanol as a global commodity. Jointly, the USA and Brazil produce in excess of 75 per cent of the world's ethanol output, and both remain committed to ethanol development at a global level.
"This will help ethanol to attain global energy commodity status, as well as fulfil its vital objectives of helping provide energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," suggested UNICA president Marcos Sawaya Jank, “The involvement of APEX-Brasil is a natural, since several Brazilian drivers already compete in the IndyCar Series, and we're eager to contribute so that the IndyCar Series continues to showcase all of the benefits of ethanol.
"This involves teamwork, and both the United States and Brazil, as major producers and users of ethanol, have the duty to remain ahead of the pack in the global race for alternative energy sources.”
Another memorandum of understanding, this time signed by Angstadt and APEX-Brasil president Alessandro Teixeira, was signed in Sao Paulo on 17 November, and will attempt to achieve the joint aims of boosting APEX-Brasil's overseas imports by using the IndyCar Series to promote a variety of Brazilian products in the three countries where the series competes - the United States, Canada and Japan.
The IndyCar Series, meanwhile, will continue to use 100 per cent fuel-grade ethanol - denatured by two per cent gasoline - in 2009, having made the switch over the 2006-07 seasons.
“From a technical standpoint, the move to any raw material-based ethanol does not change anything for the IndyCar Series,” confirmed senior technical director Les Mactaggart, “The end product is still 100 per cent fuel-grade ethanol, and our engine mappings and ECUs will continue to read and process it exactly the same.”