Statement From Honda Regarding CART Rule Change - 2001

6/15/2001 9:48:06 PM

This morning, CART presented teams with pop off valves that had a 3/4 inch spacer on the bottom of the valve. The teams had no advance knowledge until this morning that they were going to be running this spacer this weekend. This is a modification of a critical component of the engine control system. The CART rule book, paragraph 9.5.4A.3C states that "if an insulator or gasket is used (in reference to any spacer between the valve and plenum mount), such device must not exceed 0.25 inch in thickness."

The plenum is a highly tuned, integral component of the engine: even a small change can have a significant impact on the engine's performance. Honda has worked closely with CART on plenum designs and every design submitted since our joining the series in 1994 has been approved by the CART Technical Department prior to running.

The teams have had no time to test and confirm the operation of this large pop off valve spacer. Nor do we believe CART has had a chance to properly test the effect of this spacer on performance, air flow, boost, safety, and driveability. One of the integral tenets of the CART series has been rules stability. To make a decision of this import without any prior consultations with the stakeholders runs counter to what this series was founded on.

With no prior testing of this modification, the Honda teams elected not to run Friday morning's practice session. The Friday afternoon sessions were run at the discretion of the teams. Honda understands that the teams have significant obligations to their sponsors and drivers that support their participation during race weekends. With Friday's now structured as a defacto test day, and the race weekend not officially starting until Saturday, this is an opportunity for the teams and drivers to fully understand the effect of this alteration.

This is an unfortunate situation. There was no prior notice or discussion with the teams or Honda on this change and this modification runs counter to the letter and spirit of the CART rule book. The engine manufacturers are integral supporters and partners with CART and this mechanical change and change in the rules process runs counter to years of mutual cooperation.