We Get An Up Close Look at the Acura ARX-05 IMSA Prototype Race Car
Acura ARX-05 built to take on the likes of Cadillac and Mazda in IMSA Sports Car racing.
It’s unusually warm on this track practice day, just days ahead of the 2019 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, or, at least it certainly feels that way. The normally mild April weather, regulated by the Long Beach oceanfront, feels sweltering under the piercing sunlight.
Of course, it could be the effects of global warming kicking into overdrive, or, more likely in this scenario, it’s because there are a lot of people all occupying a small space at the same time. I’m in the Acura Team Penske pits and the team is moving around, working on two ARX-05 IMSA DPi Prototype race cars.
The Acura ARX-05 has been racing successfully since it’s debut in late 2017 for the 2018 racing season, but its fundamentals go back just little a bit further. One year further, to be exact, where chassis supplier Oreca debuted the Oreca 07, a Le Mans Prototype, at the 24 Hours of Daytona race in 2017.
At this point, the bodywork is almost totally removed, exposing an array of carbon fiber and aluminum composite components. The chassis is a carbon fiber monocoque. A quick look around and it’s clear that the carbon fiber treatment continues way beyond the chassis. Carbon composite brakes, at all four corners, are fed air through brake ducts with carbon fiber inlet scoops. There’s more carbon fiber garnish around the engine bay, but we will return to that in a second. The suspension utilizes a double wishbone setup, front and rear, with a push rod-style damper.
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Okay, a second is up, let’s talk about that engine bay. It’s all too easy to simply become lazer-focused on the mid-mounted AR35TT V6 engine, which sits inches behind the driver’s spine. It, too, uses carbon fiber ducting for the engine intake system. A fat carbon airbox sits atop the engine, and diverts air into the twin turbochargers, situated on either side of that 3.5-liter V6. It’s based on the J35, by the way. Yup, your Honda Odyssey minivan has more motorsport cred than any other vehicle in the grocery store parking lot. The AR35TT is class-limited to 600 horsepower. It sends power to the rear wheels via an X-Trac 6-speed sequential transmission, which accounts for the bulk of the sensors, controllers and wiring in the engine bay.
Things get even more lively when Acura Team Penske driver, and multi-time, multi-series race champion Dane Cameron enters the scene. Cameron is jovial, trading notes with the engineers and taking the time to shake hands with everyone, and even stops to pose for a picture. I ask how he feels about Long Beach, and his response is measured: it’s a tight, bumpy street circuit, with limited passing opportunities. His measured responses are followed by a strong showing in practice, and, ultimately, lead to an extremely close third place finish at Long Beach. Cameron and co-driver Juan Pablo Montoya were just 1.873 seconds off first, and 1.133 seconds off second place, a position which is occupied by the other ARX-05, driven by Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves. The race is an hour and 45 minutes long.
For a team just two years in the making, Acura Team Penske has been and continues to put on a good show. The competitive and diverse team of drivers, backed by the potent ARX-05 platform means that they may just go and win the whole championship this year. And, why not? After all, they almost did it in 2018, their first year in the field.