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Splash & Go writes:
"The Worst of Both Worlds"
Posted by Uptight Motorsports Nerd on January 22, 2012
Viewed 298 times

   

If I could select any engine in the world to drop in a racecar, my last absolute last choice would be a V6. The V6 combines the primary balance of a lawn mower engine with the torque capacity of a less powerful lawn mower. IndyCar and F1 now think they are fine and dandy, but I am not sold.

To be fair, all vee engines do share a common flaw: they have more pistons than main bearings. This is hardly a fatal flaw (100 million Chevy small blocks can't be wrong), but it is the reason why industrial diesel engines are almost always I6 instead of V8. In contests of absolute strength between inline and vee engines, always bet on the inline.

The next issue is one of balance. The V6 combines both an odd number of cylinders in each bank with an unfortunately long 120° between the start of each power stroke. Building a 120° block sounds like an easy solution, but with three cylinders to a bank, forces between each bank can't be balanced without a balance shaft. I would hate to add a balance shaft used in a racing engine because it's a parasitic drain on horsepower that creates a possible failure point. It appears that Honda, Chevrolet, and Lotus are going with a more conventional 60° V6 for their IndyCar programs. The 60° configuration relieves the need for a balance shaft, but it requires splaying the crankpins which sacrifices reliability. Despite the normally utilitarian intentions, engine balance still matters in racecars. A driver cannot feel out a car if his lower body has gone numb.

I'm not going to argue that a V6 engine is a fundamentally wrong idea in itself. In a passenger car, my inner pragmatist sees a terrific compromise between power and size. In a racecar, my inner lazy American sees trouble.


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