Legendary carmaker joins Chevy and Honda in 2012 IndyCar engine lineup

First, they hooked up with KV Racing Technology. Then, they revealed their plans to build an aero kit for 2012. And now, they’ll be the IZOD IndyCar Series’ third engine manufacturer that season as well.

Today in Los Angeles, IndyCar confirmed that Lotus, a company with a cherished place in racing history, will create an aero kit and powerplant for the series’ next generation of cars.

In a span of nearly one week, IndyCar has gone from a series with a sole engine brand to a series with a trio of them — and now, the anticipation for 2012 appears set to reach new heights.

“Last March, one thing we learned really quick was what fans wanted — they wanted to see the spec series go away,” said IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard in a press conference at the L.A. Auto Show. “That was the number one thing the fans said. We were very excited to announce last week that it would no longer be a spec series with two engines [in 2012] and even more proud to announce today that there will be three engines in 2012.”

Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said that the company wants to do their motor racing heritage justice and is looking forward to battling their new rivals on the engine front in Chevrolet and Honda.

“We want to really fight and compete with the big guys, but we have a Lotus way to do things and we always try to understand what we’re getting into. That’s why we started this year with a very small activity with Takuma Sato and the KV Racing Technology team for one car — to understand IndyCar racing and to see whether there was an opportunity for us to become a real contender…

“…We took the decision to build our own engine…We’re going to be the underdog. We’re going to fight Chevy and Honda. But that’s fine. That’s all about competition.”

1963 Indianapolis 500 winner and former Lotus driver Parnelli Jones also talked about Lotus expanding their IndyCar program.

“We need something like this to make Indianapolis and [IndyCar] proud and I think Lotus is playing a great part in this,” Jones said. “I was fortunate to win three or four races in a Lotus and finish second [at the Indy 500] the year that Jimmy Clark won [1965].

“I had a great relationship with Lotus at that time and of course, we were powered by the Ford engine. But it’s nice to see them coming back with an engine and a chassis package that will be competitive with Chevrolet and, of course, Honda.”