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NOVEMBER 1, 2004

The implications of a Cosworth sale

The Ford Motor Company is believed to be close to selling Cosworth Racing, its competition engine subsidiary which in recent years has supplied Jaguar Racing with its V10 engines, Champ Car with its power units and built engines for Chevrolet in the Indy Racing League.

The latest suggestion is that Cosworth is about to be sold to racing mogul Kevin Kalkhoven, the owner of the PKV Champ Car team and one of the partners in the Champ Car organization. Acquiring Cosworth will guarantee a supply of engines for the long term but might also provide a useful way of hitting back at the rival Indy Racing League. The IRL currently has three engine makers: Honda, Toyota and Chevrolet. The two Japanese companies agreed in the summer to extend their engine supply arrangements to the end of 2006 - and thus lengthen the three-year cycle of engines which had been agreed until the end of 2005. No such commitment has come from Chevrolet although the company has said that it will make an announcement shortly.

But now there are rumours that Chevrolet wants out of the series. The company started in IRL in 2002 although prior to that GM was represented in the series by Oldsmobile's Aurora brand. After being badly beaten by Toyota and Honda in the first half of 2003 GM went to Cosworth for help and the resulting engine was successful at the end of last year. The decision to reduce engine capacity to 3-litres this season gave Honda an advantage and Chevrolet has not been competitive. In the most recent race the first Chevrolet finished only ninth behind five Hondas and three Toyotas.

It is believed that there is a year left on the Cosworth-Chevrolet contract but if neither party wishes to continue the deal could be scrapped. That would leave IRL with two Japanese manufacturers and Champ Car with backing from US manufacturer Ford, a situation which would fly in the face of IRL's stated goal of promoting US racing.