INDYCAR, Lotus finalize separation

Lotus’ star-crossed saga in the IZOD IndyCar Series has finally come to an end.

According to an INDYCAR release, the British marque has been released from its engine supply contract by the sanctioning body after just one season of competition. That leaves the series with two engine manufacturers in Chevrolet and Honda going forward.

“We appreciate the effort that Lotus made in helping return manufacturer competition to the IZOD IndyCar Series,” INDYCAR president of operations Brian Barnhart said in the release. “However, Lotus has made a business decision not to return in 2013 and asked for its release. We wish them well and would welcome their participation again in the future.”

Lotus COO Aslam Farikullah said that his company would now “focus on core business activities as a leading sports car manufacturer and world-class engineering consultancy.”

“Lotus is grateful to INDYCAR for the opportunity to compete during the 2012 season and for the support provided throughout,” Farikullah also said in the release. “The decision not to continue was not an easy one and Lotus does not discount the possibility to re-enter the series at some time in the future.”

In a 2012 season that was filled with many highlights on the track thanks to a new chassis/engine combination, the Lotus saga was a decisive lowlight. The group entered the year with four teams in its stable: Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, Dragon Racing, Bryan Herta Autosport (now Barracuda Racing) and HVM Racing.

Unfortunately, a late start in engine development made sure those teams were off the pace from the very beginning. All but one — HVM, which is now moving on to sports car racing as part of the FIA World Endurance Championship — made the decision to leave the Lotus camp before this past May’s Indianapolis 500. The company was also sold in mid-season, which in turn froze much-needed financial support.

Lotus’ top finish in IndyCar was a ninth-place effort from Sebastien Bourdais at Barber Motorsports Park in April. His Dragon Racing squad wound up going to Chevrolet, which along with Honda, must now be able to supply 60 percent of the field per series rules.