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The rumor mill started churning during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach less than two weeks ago that two Lotus factory teams - Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Bryan Herta Autosport - were less than satisfied with their Lotus engine supply chain in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
While the engine itself has a good deal of promise, being small and light, the lack of testing capabilities and the customary new-product reliability issues made it difficult for two established squads, one of the most long-lived in the IndyCar Series and the other the defending Indianapolis 500 champion, to race on a competitive basis.
Lotus acknowledged it was late to the party, supplying more teams than it could satisfy and hindered by an "unanticipated change of ownership and subsequent restriction on resources. To have achieved a top-ten position under these circumstances is pretty impressive," its press release said.
With feedback from its four teams after the first three races of the season, Lotus "undertook a strategic review of its position to decide what course of action would be in the best interests of INDYCAR and the teams it supports."
In cooperation with the sanctioning body INDYCAR, Lotus stated its long-term commitment to the platform, but it will reduce the number of cars from five to three for the balance of the 2012 season.
"As a consequence of this decision, Lotus has made offers to Bryan Herta Autosport LLC (BHA) and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing LLC (DRR) to end the agreements with them." Last week BHA revealed the team intended to skip the Sao Paulo round scheduled for this weekend; DRR will race one more time as a Lotus team in Brazil.
"Our focus is on the Brazil race," said Dennis Reinbold, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing co-owner. "We are still a part of the Lotus team and we're excited to go there." Added co-owner Robbie Buhl: "We know this will be a tough change mid-season, but we feel it is the best decision for DRR and our partners, and we wish Lotus all the best." INDYCAR's rules make an engine changeover less difficult by mandating similar pickup points for Chevy, Honda and Lotus engines to the Dallara DW12 chassis. "We are in the midst of finalizing our future plans and we are talking to the Series to conclude that process," Reinbold added. "We will be making a public statement in the very near future."
Lotus continues its association with Lotus HVM Racing, an original partner team and the two-car Lotus Dragon Racing, who delivered the engine's best result so far this season, with Sebastien Bourdais earning ninth place at Barber Motorsports Park, the second race of the year. "Lotus wishes Bryan Herta Autosport LLC and Dreyer & Reinbold LLC the very best of luck for the future."
INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard weighed in with this comment: 'INDYCAR is committed to ensuring that our teams and manufacturers have a platform to remain competitive. We support Lotus' decision and will assist Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Bryan Herta Autosport in securing engine support for the remainder of the season."
Interestingly, the subject line of the press release stated this: "Lotus Raises IndyCar Commitment."