Not only did Wednesday bring news that Bryan Herta Autosport and HVM Racing would be “partner” teams, being heavily involved in early testing and configuration for the team, but Dreyer and Reinbold Racing made its long-awaited announcement Thursday, joining the mix as the third “partner” team as well. This triad will join previously-announced Michael Shank Racing as the current roster of Lotus-powered teams for 2012.
Of the remaining teams without a confirmed engine deal—Ed Carpenter Racing, Dale Coyne, Sarah Fisher, and Conquest, primarily—it sounds as if at least Conquest will also be with Lotus, though that’s yet to be confirmed in print. My guess is Conquest and possibly one other team, but things change).
No, the first Lotus tests in the DW12 aren’t until January. But with John Judd working on their engine, the somewhat disconcerting silence around their program newly dissipated, and things finally starting to shift into place, you get the idea that maybe this is going to work out after all.
|Courtesy IndyCar Media|
True, none of the signed Lotus teams are generally considered top-tier teams; whether for a lack of slots at Honda or Chevy or for other considerations, they’re at Lotus (though it should be pointed out it doesn't mean these teams are held in poor regard, either). It all feeds into a scenario that feels primed for your standard, pre-fabricated, David-and-Goliath storyline. How many times have we seen someone say, “Man, I hope Lotus is a huge success year”? How great would it to see drivers such as Simona de Silvestro at HVM or Alex Tagliani at BHA run wild with a competitive, hard-charging Lotus? But could it really happen, when the conventional wisdom from many corners has been that Lotus will be a step behind?
They’ve been slow out of the gate, yes, and they don’t have the R&D power of someone like Honda behind them, true. And with all the talk of the Lotus/Judd engine being lighter than its competitors, we still don’t know how things will go until testing really gets underway, and even then we’ll have questions until we see how they run in anger. But hope is a great thing. So is intrigue. With the third engine manufacturer starting to roar, INDYCAR can claim both right now.
Skeptics, take your shots. Lovers of the underdog, make your defense.And enjoy the fact you get to do so with the promise of eating crow or gloating trimphantly come spring.