INDYCAR: Lotus officially in for 2012 with engines, aero kits

MOTEGI JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 18: Takuma Sato of Japan driver of the #5 Lotus-KV Racing Technology Dallara Honda drives during practice for the IndyCar Series Indy Japan 300 on September 18 2010 in Motegi Japan. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The expected announcement that Lotus would join Chevrolet and Honda as an engine provider in 2012 for the Izod IndyCar Series was made Thursday afternoon from the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Like Chevrolet, Lotus will also produce aero kits for the Dallara Safety Cell which will serve as the basic chassis for all teams in 2012. The addition of Lotus means IndyCar will have manufacturers from Europe (Lotus), Asia (Honda) and the United States (Chevrolet).

"This is another exciting day; I'm loving these days," said IndyCar chief executive officer Randy Bernard at the start of the media availability. "We learned what fans wanted; they wanted the spec series to go away. That's the number one thing the fans said."

Details about the Lotus engine will be released at a later date. Bernard noted this will mark the first time in IndyCar that Lotus will race an engine of its own design.

(Click here to read the press release)

"We take racing seriously, and we just don't want to be a sticker on a car that we don't design or build," said Dany Bahar, Group Lotus chief executive officer. "Building our own engine we're going to be the underdog; we're going to fight Chevy and Honda."

Bahar said Lotus explored the possibility of entering the IndyCar Series this past season by sponsoring the KV Racing Technology car of Takuma Sato. He noted that although Sato's season was somewhat uneven, Lotus liked the direction the series was taking.

"We made the brave decision, yes this is where we want to be. We want to be in this series," said Bahar. "I hope we will succeed, and exceed expectations."

Bahar said Lotus would look into sponsoring more cars in the series, and it was possible there would be "three or more cars in our livery on the grid."

Parnelli Jones, the 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner and a former Lotus driver, closed the announcement portion of the availability by, saying "It's great to see Lotus coming back into the sport. I was fortunate to win three or four races, and finish second (in 1965) the year Jimmy Clark won (the Indianapolis 500) in a Lotus."

Just as with the Chevrolet announcement on Nov. 12, Honda was quick to welcome a new player to the playground it once held a monopoly on.

"This is exciting news. Lotus Cars has a long and distinguished record in motorsports, and will add to the worldwide appeal of IZOD IndyCar Series racing," said Erik Berkman, Honda Performance Development president. "Along with last week's announcement that Chevrolet will join the series in 2012, the addition of Lotus is yet another indication of IndyCar's growing popularity. We look forward to taking on our worthy rivals from both Lotus and Chevrolet, and providing fans with the thrilling competition that is the hallmark of IZOD IndyCar Series racing."

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