Five engine manufacturers left a two-day meeting at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week with homework assignments.
"We had a couple of good days of meetings with [several engine] manufacturers back in town in a continuation of the process begun in late June with the initial roundtable," said Brian Barnhart, the Indy Racing League's president of competition and operations.
Barnhart said there is a consensus on about 70 percent of the package for a new engine that would be used in the IndyCar Series beginning in 2011. That's where the homework assignments, due in six weeks, come in.
The timeline for defining a spec and receiving a commitment from manufacturers to replace the workhorse Honda Indy V8, which has been the sole power plant for the IndyCar Series since 2006, remains the end of the calendar year. That would allow proper lead time for design/development and manufacturing for full-scale testing in 2010.
Among the changes being considered are the addition of turbochargers to the currently normally aspirated engines used in the IndyCar Series.
Honda, currently the sole engine supplier for the series, was one of the five manufacturers represented at the latest meetings. IRL officials declined to identify the other four.
"We're very encouraged again by their participation and enthusiasm about potentially joining the series," Barnhart said of the other manufacturers. "We clearly went into more specifics than in our June meeting and made a lot of progress toward defining the potential specs for 2011, and were encouraged by the fact that they're all very much interested in continuing this process."
He said the remaining questions are very specific and very important.
"The homework assignments for the engine manufacturers are to make sure they have a comfort level with the power required to meet [the] performance levels, in addition to the durability requirements and cost parameters we're looking for," Barnhart said. "We're going to work with Dallara and Firestone in terms of the chassis and tire portion of the package to see what can be done in terms of grip levels, downforce and drag levels to create the performance levels we're looking for."
Dallara will remain the sole chassis supplier, but also is working to come up with a new design for 2011.
"If the performance levels can be met that we're expecting, combining chassis, tires and the horsepower levels, then we've settled on a spec. It's important for us to integrate all of it with the diverse schedule that we run," Barnhart noted.
He said individual follow-up conference calls will continue, with a third round of formal discussions tentatively scheduled for late October.