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  Penske PC26 Mercedes
 

  Article Image gallery (9) 005 Specifications  
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Country of origin:United States
Produced in:1997
Numbers built:5
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:October 23, 2009
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAt the end of the 1996 season Team Penske found itself in unfamiliar territory; for the first time in over 20 years, the team had not scored at least one win in the CART championship. The combination of the exclusive Penske chassis, Ilmor-Mercedes engine and Goodyear tire proved to be no match for the readily available Reynard chassis, Honda engine and Firestone tires. For legendary team-owner Roger Penske the easiest route to success was to switch to the most competitive machinery but his close ties with all three elements of his package forced him to continue on the same foot in 1997.

At the Poole, England based factory, the new Penske PC26 chassis was constructed. Its design followed the PC25 used to little effect in 1996. The main changes to the carbon-fibre tub were in response to revised regulations. The cockpit was widened to allow for additional safety padding around the driver. A reduction in maximum size enabled the designer to place the fuel cell lower in the chassis, which also meant the driver could sit further back and closer to the car's centre-line. More attention was given to the suspension in an attempt to improve the car's poor handling.

At the nearby Ilmor facility the latest 'IC 108 D' evolution of the Mercedes-Benz labelled engine was developed. This 2.65 litre V8 featured a single Garrett Turbo, mounted behind the engine. The maximum boost was regulated by a mandatory electronic pop-off valve that was fitted on top of the air-box. According to the factory supplied specifications, the Ilmor-Mercedes V8 produced 800 bhp at 14200 rpm. The casing of the bespoke Penske six-speed gearbox also enclosed the giant turbo and bolted onto the engine. The complicated and very potent drivetrain served as fully stressed member of the chassis.

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  Article Image gallery (9) 005 Specifications