Toyota bows out early, Honda going solo for IRL

first_img Honda debuted in the IndyCar Series in 2003 and won the series championship with Tony Kanaan in 2004 and Dan Wheldon in 2005. It also took the Indy 500 with Buddy Rice in 2004 and Wheldon this year. IRL and Indy rookie of the year Danica Patrick, the first woman to lead at Indianapolis, also used a Honda engine. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake “Providing engines for the entire IndyCar Series field is a dramatically different role for Honda from that as one competitor in a multi-manufacturer championship,” said Robert Clarke of Honda Performance Development, which is based in Santa Clarita. “Certainly, manufacturing and preparing sufficient primary and backup engines for all 33 starters at the Indianapolis 500 will be a major effort.” Toyota said Thursday it decided to withdraw a year ahead of schedule to allow the IRL to move to a common engine for all teams in 2006. Jim Aust, Toyota’s vice president of motorsports, said winning the 2003 Indianapolis 500 with Gil de Ferran was Toyota’s greatest motorsports accomplishment. “We’ll forever cherish that victory,” he said. Toyota began supplying engines to the former CART series in 1996 and joined the IRL in 2003, winning 17 races since. Toyota-powered cars won six poles and four races last season. INDIANAPOLIS – Toyota power will be gone from the Indy Racing League a year earlier than planned, leaving Honda as the only engine supplier next season. IRL president Brian Barnhart said Thursday that having a single engine program would save teams money. He said there will be minimal changes to the technical specifications of the Honda Racing Indy V8 in 2006. “That is a tribute to the specs we have now,” he said. “The reliability and performance we have witnessed has been outstanding.” Toyota, which has not been as competitive as Honda the past two years, originally planned to withdraw from the IRL after the 2006 season. Chevrolet left after this season, and the elite Penske Racing team announced last month it would switch from Toyota to Honda, which has committed to remaining at least through 2009. last_img

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