©2003 SpeedCenter Publishing
Five races into the 2003 CART Champ Car season, the Ford-Cosworth XFE engine is living up to its billing as a strong, reliable powerplant. The German 500 on May 11th at EuroSpeedway Lausitz was a showcase of the engine's durability, as none of the 19 cars on the grid experienced an engine failure despite the 300-mile race distance at speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour. Ian Bisco, Vice President of Cosworth Racing, Inc. in Torrance, Calif., has been very pleased with the performance of the Ford-Cosworth XFE thus far this season and shared his thoughts about the engine after returning from Europe.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR OVERALL IMPRESSION OF THE ENGINE'S PERFORMANCE SO FAR THIS YEAR?
IAN BISCO - Vice President Cosworth, Inc.: "I'm extremely happy with the way things have gone to date; it was obviously something new to us to supply a spec engine to the full grid. The previous history of the engine was in a slightly different use. To take an engine that was designed for ultimate performance at high RPM's to compete against other manufacturers and convert it to run in a completely different format was a little concerning, but our engineers have done an excellent job on working out what needed to be done and what had to be changed on the engine to accommodate this new specification. I have to say that the package now after the first five races is very impressive."
PRIOR TO THE GERMAN 500 DID YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS WITH THE AMOUNT OF STRESS THAT WOULD BE PUT ON THE ENGINES?
IAN BISCO - Vice President Cosworth, Inc.:"Obviously, it was the first time that we had gone to an oval track race with the XFE, and I wouldn't say there were any concerns. We've done quite a bit of durability testing on the dyno to try and cover all aspects and all conditions that the engine is likely to have in a race of that nature and for that duration. However, you can never quite simulate exactly what an engine does in a car on the dyno, and you always have to be prepared for the unexpected things that can come up. But now, after completing the race, I came away extremely impressed because engines that raced there in practice and qualifying had been used at other events prior to Germany and had a significant amount of miles already on them. I think overall that the package continued to impress."
DID YOU GET ANY FEEDBACK FROM THE TEAMS AFTER THE RACE?
IAN BISCO - Vice President Cosworth, Inc.:"I did talk to an engineer from Newman/Haas, and he was very complimentary. He said he'd never been to a race that was run as hard as it was for as long as it was and not see one single engine failure. I think that it's really a testament to the package and to the job that our engineers have done and to the guys at our facility in California that build the engine. I think the race was extremely satisfying."
DID ANY TEAMS OPT FOR FRESH ENGINES PRIOR TO THE 300-MILE RACE?
IAN BISCO - Vice President Cosworth, Inc.:"Some opted to put fresh engines in because it was the first time we'd been on an oval. I have to say that with the new wing package that CART utilized at Germany a lot of the engines were basically full throttle for 300 miles, just lifting when a driver got caught up with another driver or in conditions like that. When they were running on their own, for all accounts, a driver could be full throttle all of the time, which is a hell of a bloody task for an engine."
THERE WERE A FEW TEAMS CHANGING ENGINES ON SATURDAY NIGHT AFTER QUALIFYING; WHAT WERE THEIR CONCERNS?
IAN BISCO - Vice President Cosworth, Inc.:"There were some driver concerns about power in some of the engines. Practice and qualifying on Saturday did cause a few concerns from teams that questioned the engines' performance after several teams were noticeably slower than other teams. However, the engine part was quickly eliminated after a few teams replaced the engines in question, and it was proven to be the aero packages causing the slower speeds."
EVEN IF THERE IS A DIFFERENTIAL IN HORSEPOWER BETWEEN ENGINES, HOW MUCH WOULD IT TAKE TO HAVE AN EFFECT ON SPEEDS AT LAUSITZRING?
IAN BISCO - Vice President Cosworth, Inc.:"I talked to Dave Watson from Fernandez Racing about that, and in terms of horsepower you have to have a pretty large differential to make an impact on speed. In the old days, when we used to go to Indianapolis, they used to say with completely trimmed out bodywork and very small wings it would be 10-15 horsepower for a mile-an-hour. Carrying the sort of a large drag factor like CART had at Lausitzring, Dave thought it'd take 18 horsepower to gain a mile-an-hour. So, when you were seeing drivers that were quicker than others by a couple of miles-per-hour you're talking a difference of 30-40 horsepower between one engine and another, which isn't the case. First of all, it's just not within our contractual obligations to have that much differential between engines, unless something drastic has gone wrong with the engine, and secondly, we wouldn't supply an engine that would be that different from the rest. All of our engines are within seven horsepower, plus or minus."
ANOTHER ENGINE THAT FORD-COSWORTH DID A LOT OF WORK ON IN PREPARTION FOR GERMANY WAS THE XFE USED IN ALEX ZANARDI'S CAR. YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT EVENT.
IAN BISCO - Vice President Cosworth, Inc.:"It was obviously quite a moving experience to be there and actually see Alex get into the car run the car for the last 13 laps. We obviously played a big part in making the controls and adapting the engine for Alex to be able to use it, so there was a lot of satisfaction there in doing that. It was just such a huge boost for everybody when Alex went out there and ran competitive times, it was really amazing."
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