The intense fight for engine manufacturer supremacy between Chevy and Honda has defined the Verizon IndyCar Series since its most recent formula was launched in 2012.
In recent months, and well clear of the racing circuit, both brands have put the fight aside as they’ve worked directly with IndyCar’s competition department to frame the next set of engine regulations that could be announced next month in Indianapolis.
“I think one of the very early questions that was asked of both Honda and Chevrolet is what engine architecture or what engine technology would be relevant to you come 2020 or 2021, and the good news is that both Honda and Chevrolet are aligned on what’s relevant,” Chevrolet director of motorsports competition Mark Kent told RACER.
“We all have the same objectives that we had when we got in here in 2012 is we wanted an architecture that was relevant, so that’s going to stay in place for years to come.”
Jay Frye, IndyCar’s president of competition, has been vocal in his desire to push the horsepower figure upward by a significant amount with its upcoming engine regulations. A general goal of sticking with today’s small-displacement direct-injected turbo formula, albeit with a few expected tweaks, has also been mentioned by Frye. From Kent’s perspective, it’s the right call.
“I think if you look at today’s engine, I don’t know any technology that we’ve left on the shelf,” he added. “The technology we’re using today is relevant, and if you asked me what we want to do in the future, I’d say what we’re doing today is still relevant. As you look forward, you have to make sure you don’t introduce technologies just for the sake of introducing technologies that can drive cost into the series for no technical benefit, no marketing benefit.
“We were very conscientious of that when we worked through this whole thing to make sure the package is one that was relevant and also would be cost-effective for the teams and the manufacturers going forward.”
Although Chevy and Honda produce a select number of road cars that make use of hybrid gas/electric powertrains, there appears to be a consensus on keeping hybrids out of the 2020/2021 regulations.
“There’s a lot of opportunities to do a lot of different things in different series, and it’s when you try to be everything for everybody, when you’re trying to please everybody, that you fail,” Kent said. “IndyCar, again, as of right now and for years to come, is a great platform for us to accomplish what we want to accomplish.”
Beyond any personal options he might hold on whether hybrid technology belongs in IndyCar, Kent has also taken advisement from key departments within Chevy to form the brand’s stance on the topic.
“Chevrolet, we race to sell cars and trucks and parts, so we need to race what’s relevant,” he said. “We need to race what’s in the showroom today or what’s going to be in the showroom tomorrow. Really, we work hand-in-hand with our marketing groups and our engineering groups to look at what’s coming, and that drives us to which technologies we want to showcase, then figure out in which series you want to showcase those. The formula IndyCar has with smaller, more efficient engines that are reliable and powerful, is what we look for in this series.”