Honda IndyCar hybrid engine testing at IMS

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The NTT IndyCar Series broke ground this week with the successful completion of its first 2024 hybrid engine track test. The Wednesday-Thursday session was held on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The two-day outing was the first with the full MAHLE-made energy recovery system installed in Honda’s test car, which includes a new, more powerful 2.4-litre twin-turbo V6 internal combustion engine. manufactured by Honda Performance Development. The test follows a late March race at the IMS road course where Chevrolet and Honda debuted their 2.4-liter engines minus the ERS units, which weren’t ready for on-track activities.

Introduced in 2012, IndyCar’s current 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 formula generates a peak of around 750 hp when push-to-pass boost is applied. Once the new powertrain is fully developed and put into service in 2024, the ICE+ERS package is expected to deliver around 900hp when full hybrid power is deployed.

RACER understands that HPD was the only engine supplier in the test. As well as being the first manufacturer to use the supercapacitor-based MAHLE ERS design fitted between the engine and transmission, the car would also have used the unique braking system which will be standard in 2024.

With the MAHLE system able to harvest and deploy around 100 hp which it gathers from the rear wheels when braking, Honda’s Dallara DW12 also had the steering wheel mounted energy regeneration paddle – the ‘violin brake’ as we calls it in other series – installed for trial.

Although the majority of the supercapacitor’s charge comes from hard braking when the generator set is engaged, drivers have another method to recover energy between hard brakes by using their fingers to pull the regen paddle attached to the back of the steering wheel.

Squeezing the paddle engages the brakes and activates the MGU, which helps the fast-charging supercapacitor store smaller amounts of electronic power to send back through the transmission when the P2P button is pressed.

Like Honda’s 2.4L TTV6 and MAHLE’s ERS system, the new brake system worked without any problems.

The IMS hybrid test is an encouraging development for the series after discussions with IndyCar towards the end of the season changed expectations for the first race with the full hybrid system to take place early in the new year. Based on the early success of the hybrid package, another test – possibly in mid-December at Sebring – is under discussion.

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