Through more than a dozen practice and warm-up outings, four Firestone Fast Six qualifying sessions and four road races this season, Verizon IndyCar Series engine manufacturers have achieved an impressive statistic: 100 percent reliability from their 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 powerplants.
The lack of engine failures through the first four of 16 races is first of its kind since the series moved to its small-displacement turbo formula in 2012, and as Chevy IndyCar program manager Chris Berube told RACER, the General Motors brand isn’t surprised.
“We’ve had zero engine failures; it’s always a priority for us to operate the engines with that being part of our philosophy,” said Berube, who has helped the Bowtie to secure three consecutive IndyCar Manufacturer championships. “This is the first time we achieved the reliability string of this length. It’s sort of expected, to be honest.”
The only setback so far for Chevy came after the first race of the season when a bad batch of valve springs was identified. Rather than risk engine-related issues at the following rounds, the decision was made to update its ethanol-fueled engines with new valve springs. That decision also came with the loss of Manufacturer points due to running afoul of the rule that states each engine must complete 2500 miles of service between rebuilds. Despite the minor fix, Chevy accepted the penalty, completed the procedure, and returned those engines to their teams where they went on to compete at New Orleans, Long Beach, and last weekend at Barber Motorsports Park without interruption.
Although Chevy holds a 3-1 advantage over Honda in the win column so far in 2015, the Japanese brand has scored an ongoing private victory with its elevated engine reliability. Between the two brands, Honda suffered the majority of breakages from 2012-2014, which makes their newfound durability a welcome acquisition. Honda Performance Development vice president Steve Eriksen points to the high number of durability tests HPD has conducted within its engine dyno rooms as a key factor behind the change.
“If I look back since 2012 when engine competition returned, and I look at the reliability records, it has gotten better every year,” he said. “I feel like this year, we’ve reached a point where we’ve had so many durability tests – and passed – that our confidence level is probably the highest it’s been in this modern IndyCar era. It’s quite pleasing and it’s the result of a lot of hard work. They take a lot of time and effort to do, and there have been a lot of them that we’ve done. We’re quite pleased…knock on wood.”
As Chevy- and Honda-powered teams prepare for their first run at Indianapolis this weekend with the new oval aero kits, most of their engines will reach the 2500-mile threshold once the one-day test has been completed. Teams will then trade-in their high-mileage motors for fresh units that feature a host of developments and improvements.
“We’re now looking at drivers who are getting ready for change-outs and will be getting their second engines,” Eriksen said of Sunday’s IMS test that will be open to the public. “We’re looking forward to getting those points in the Manufacturers’ championship, and to be able to go to the next approved engine specification.”