Acura and Penske Will Return to Sports Car Racing in 2018
Legendary racing team will run two Acuras in IMSA competition in 2018 to begin “multi-year” program.
Acura Motorsports announced their return to the top level of American sports car racing in partnership with Team Penske on July 11. The new Penske-run cars will compete in the highly competitive Prototype class of IMSA’s WeatherTech Sportscar Championship in 2018. The new cars will break cover during August’s Monterey Car Week in an official unveiling.
Penske will run a pair of Acura ARX-05 prototypes in conjunction with Honda Performance Development (HPD), the American racing branch of Honda and Acura. The ARX-05s will compete in the Daytona Prototype International (DPi) class against entries with various levels of factory backing from Cadillac, Mazda, and Nissan. The class also contains cars built to LMP2 specs at Le Mans with a spec Gibson V8.
Honda and Penske have a relationship that dates back several years to multiple open-wheel championships in CART and IndyCar. Gil de Ferran won two back-to-back CART titles in a Honda-powered Penske car in 2000 and 2001. During the time when only Honda supplied IndyCar’s engines, Sam Hornish (2006) and Helio Castroneves (2009) each won the Indy 500. Hornish also won the ‘06 IndyCar championship.
Acura’s prototype history in IMSA includes major successes as recently as 2009. That year, Acura prototypes took home LMP1 and LMP2 championships in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). Currently, Michael Shank Racing operates a pair of factory-backed Acura NSX GT3s in IMSA’s GT-Daytona class.
Like all cars in IMSA’s DPi class, the ARX-05 will be based on one of the four approved LMP2 chassis. Manufactuers then modify those chassis with a branded engine and manufacturer-specific bodywork. Acura’s prototype will use as its base an Oreca 07 chassis, which proved strong at Le Mans this year.
Acura will power the prototype with the proven AR35TT V6, a twin-turbo 3.5-liter engine that has seen action in prototypes, GT cars, and most recently at Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Based on the long-running Honda J35 V6, the twin-turbo version is capable of at least 600 horsepower.