- Associated Press - Friday, April 27, 2012

SAO PAULO (AP) - Teams using Honda engines at the Sao Paulo 300 are expecting to see an improvement in performance this weekend after changes have been allowed to the cars’ turbochargers.

A panel Thursday upheld an IndyCar decision to allow the changes, and the six teams using Honda power are expected to have the modified engines ready to go for the first practice session of the weekend on Saturday.

The new engines will have a new compressor cover on their single turbochargers, something Honda says will help reduce the power disadvantage to the twin turbochargers from Lotus and Chevrolet.

Three-time defending series champion Dario Franchitti said Friday he hoped the new engines would even the field a bit more.

“I’m interested to see what change that’s going to make, but obviously I’m happy with that,” the Chip Ganassi Racing team driver. “They had said they were going to make sure that the twin and the single (turbochargers) had the same power. So hopefully it’s going to get us a little bit closer, because I think we were a little bit behind in the engine department.”

Honda wanted to make the changes before the Long Beach race two weeks ago. Franchitti said he believed that BorgWarner, the turbo supplier to the IndyCar teams, intended to make the changes earlier but couldn’t get the parts fast enough.

Honda said the change had been approved before the season started.

“The new compressor cover helps to offset the performance disadvantage of the current IndyCar single turbo hardware as measured by IndyCar’s turbo supplier,” Honda said in a statement. “This correction was designed and provided by the turbo supplier under the direction of IndyCar and was approved prior to the 2012 season.”

Chevrolet protested because it said the modification in the Honda turbocharger would go against some of the series’ rules. The manufacturer said it was disappointed with the panel’s decision but was “prepared to continue to compete at the highest level” in the series. It has until Monday to appeal the panel’s decision in Indianapolis.

Helio Castroneves, who won the season-opening race with a Chevrolet engine, said Penske won’t worry too much about the possible advantage the Honda teams will get with the new turbocharger.

“There is not a lot we can do about it,” the three-time Indy 500 winner said. “We have to keep doing our job, we can’t control what is out of our control. We will keep working together with Chevy to try to have the best performance we can in our car.”

IndyCar has multiple engine manufacturers this season for the first time in seven years. Chevrolet has won all three poles and all three races in its return to the series, all with Penske. Honda has three second-place finishes so far, two with Franchitti teammate Scott Dixon and one with Simon Pagenaud of Sam Schmidt Motorsports.


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