NOVEMBER 4, 2004
Chevrolet quits IRL
General Motors has announced that it is withdrawing from the Indy Racing League after the end of its current contract in 2006. The US company has struggled to be competitive against Honda and Toyota and last year had to resort to desperate measures and ask Ford subsidiary Cosworth Racing to supply it with a competitive engine. That was a success but when IRL changed the engine rules from 3.5-litre to 3-litre engines, Chevrolet fell behind again.
Doug Duchardt, the head of GM Racing, said that the IRL no longer meets the company's "business objectives", complaining that IRL's TV viewing figures are falling and costs are rising because of the intense competition from the Japanese.
GM, using the Oldsmobile brand, was the major engine supplier in IRL from the start of the series in 1997 and won a total of 49 races before being replaced by the Chevrolet brand in 2002. The score has since increased to 66 wins but GM has not won a race this year.
The news means that Panther Racing and Patrick Racing will need to look for new engine suppliers in 2006. The other GM-powered teams Red Bull Cheever and Dreyer & Reinbold may switch before the 2005 season begins.
Cosworth Racing's future in IRL is not necessarily over. The firm may try to find a new manufacturer to badge the engines, although much depends on who owns Cosworth Racing by then.
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