The A1 Grand Prix series has changed its mind over which engine layout will best serve the purpose of its 'winter series', and has opted to switch from the original Langford V6 to a new Zytek V8.

The change was confirmed following a deal finalised between His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Al Maktoum and British company Zytek Engineering, which has a long history of motorsport involvement, principally via F3000 and sportscars. Zytek has been the sole supplier of engines to the FIA F3000 Championship since 1996, but has been involved with competitors in the series since 1989. It will also be represented at this year's Le Mans with both a factory and privateer team.

"Zytek is extremely privileged to have been appointed as the manufacturer of A1 Grand Prix's racing engine," John Manchester, Zytek's operations director, said of the deal, "The 'World Cup of Motorsport' will be very prestigious, involving participants representing up to 80 per cent of the world's population, and to be supplying engines and electronics on such a global scale is a fantastic opportunity.

"We see this as a perfect partnership and, with ten years experience of supplying engines and electronics to single-make racing formulae, we can help create what will be a world class racing series."

Before the new deal was agreed, tenders had been invited from six engine manufacturers but, after several meetings and analysis of data, it was obvious that Zytek Engineering would provide the best option to manufacture the all-new 3.4 litre V8. The powerplant will be a modern 90 degree all aluminium V8, which will assist with the overall weight distribution and centre of gravity.

"Since our launch at the end of March, we have had an amazing worldwide response from groups and individuals wanting to be involved in the series," revealed Sheikh Maktoum, "I listened to what was said, and the logical choice for us was a bespoke 3.4 litre, 90-degree V8.

"We asked Langford Performance Engineering, who supplied the unit for our prototype car, and five other companies to tender for the V8 contract, but a partnership with Zytek's one-stop-shop made both operational and business sense. I want to thank Dick Langford for the work his company did on the V6 engine for the prototype car."

"We took several factors into consideration when making the final decision on the specification of the engine," added series general manager Stephen Watson, "It made sense to use a V8 at reduced power levels to obtain the required 550bhp, as opposed to taking a V6 to its limits and compromising reliability. In Zytek, we have proven reliability, service history and the ability to customise the power plant to our exact specifications."

Announcements disclosing details of the series' first 'franchise holders' are expected to be made by mid-summer. Each 'team' is expected to run under the flag of an individual country, hence the 'World Cup' tag, and talks are already underway with 23 countries covering Asia, Africa, the Americas, Australia and Europe.

The series is scheduled to run in 'warm' countries during what is commonly regarded as motor racing's 'off season', with the first race taking the green light in September 2005. Dubai, Bahrain, Qatar, China, South Africa, Malaysia and Australia have already been chosen to host races in the first A1 Grand Prix season, with two further events to be added to the schedule.

 

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