Lotus is reportedly set to part ways with two of the four partner teams running its bespoke engines in the IndyCar Series. The engine builder has had appalling form as the championship’s newest engine supplier.
According to a report in the Indianapolis Star, the one-car Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Bryan Herta Autosport teams are seeking a cancellation of their current engine supply deals with Lotus, with it being believed that they will join Chevrolet and Honda’s engine supply groups, respectively.
DRR and BHA – which run Oriol Servià and Alex Tagliani respectively – are understood to have grown fed up with Lots’ uncompetitiveness and unreliability, along with its inability to supply enough V6 turbo engines for its entire customer base.
It is believed that the final straw came when the Lotus-powered teams – which also include the two-car Dragon Racing and one-car HVM operations – were unable to take part at the sole Indianapolis 500 test session because Lotus was unable to supply enough engines to go around.
The split, however, would require clearance from IndyCar Series officials as it would effectively drop Lotus below the minimum number of teams it is required to supply under its contract with the championship.
Should IndyCar officials sign off on the release, then it is logical to expect that they would substantial improvements in performance and reliability from Lotus ahead of the 2013 season, along with an increase in the number of teams it can sustainably supply.
If the move goes ahead, it will effectively mean there are just three full-time Lotus-powered runners left in the championship, while a fourth entry will be run at the Indianapolis 500 by Newman/Haas Racing for Lotus’ brand ambassador, former F1 driver Jean Alesi.
Along with the returning Chevrolet, Lotus joined the championship ahead of the 2012 season under the series’ new rules which allowed for an open-market engine supply after years of a Honda monopoly.
The best-placed Lotus-powered runner in the Drivers’ Championship is seventh-placed Sébastien Bourdais (Dragon Racing), who – despite delivering a miraculous top-ten finish at Alabama – sits 80 points behind current championship leader Will Power.