Twin-turbocharged engines to level IndyCar playing field
By Brian Dodson
July 30, 2013
INDYCAR has announced that all engines for the IZOD IndyCar Series from 2014 forward will be equipped with twin Borg-Warner turbochargers. After Lotus dropped out of competition due to a problem-filled 2012, returning engine manufacturer Chevrolet squared dual turbochargers against Honda's single, and dominated the season. Next year should show better performance and a more level playing field.
IndyCar engines represent remarkable feats of engineering and experience. These 2.2 liter (135.25 cu in) turbocharged V6 engines weighing a mere 114 kg (250 lbs) might be an appropriate size for pushing along a mid-sized sedan, but pump out about 650 horsepower at up to 12,000 rpm. A combination of direct and indirect fuel injection allows these tiny engines to swallow the enormous amount of fuel needed to achieve such power.
Normal turbo boost is 21.75 psi for these mini-brutes, with a passing option allowing a temporary (15 to 20 seconds, depending on the track) increase to 23.2 psi. Ten such boosts are allowed during a race, after which the capability is self-terminated. It isn't yet clear how much advantage the extra boost will deliver to these E85 powered thoroughbreds, but time will tell.
For most of the last decade, Honda has been providing the only IndyCar racing engine in the world, which automatically removed engine performance as a factor in these races. In 2012, Chevrolet reentered the game as a second source of IndyCar engines, however, it decided to use a dual turbo rather than Honda's single turbo. Both options fit within the rules and, while not a walkaway win, the Chevy engine took a clear first in 2012 and is on track for a repeat this year.
In response to the slightly imbalanced versions of the IndyCar 2.2 liter engines, the INDYCAR Engine Committee, in coordination with Honda and Chevrolet who are preparing to update their engines, has decided that only engines with dual turbochargers will be allowed starts for the 2014 season. As Borg-Warner supplies all the turbochargers for INDYCAR, this, together with the rules limiting boost, will help insure that the drivers are tested more strongly than their racecars during a race.
"In an effort for parity throughout the turbocharger range, mandating only a twin turbo system simplifies our efforts to ensure even closer competition," INDYCAR president of competition and operations Derrick Walker said. "Both manufacturers displayed a willingness to use a common turbo spec for 2014, so it made sense to mandate a twin turbocharger that maintains the performance we've come to expect while keeping the technology relevant to the automotive industry."