Honda isn’t letting a less than ideal return to Formula 1 deter it from diversifying its motorsports portfolio. At The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, prior to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Honda’s luxury arm, Acura, introduced its ARX-05 Daytona Prototype, which will compete in the top class (Prototype) in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship starting in the 2018 season.
Acura isn’t going it alone; the automaker is partnering with the legendary Team Penske on the project. Roger Penske was on hand at the exclusive debut the day before the ARX-05 (for Acura Racing eXperimental, Gen 5) made its public debut, and he said he hopes Team Penske’s 500th win will come in the prototype. It has 20 race wins to go.
Indy-series fans may find this partnership odd, considering that Penske’s Indy cars, powered by Chevrolet engines, compete against Honda-engined cars in the series every weekend.
There is a chance the ARX-05 will have a go at the Le Mans LMP2 title, but that has more to do with the ACO and IMSA governing bodies coming to some kind of agreement than Acura’s or Penske’s desire to tackle the 24-hour race in France. Acura’s ARX-03 reached the top step of the Le Mans LMP2 podium in 2012 on the watch of a customer team, Starworks Motorsport.
Acura’s new racer conforms to Daytona Prototype International specifications and is built on an Oreca chassis, albeit with Acura-inspired bodywork and LED headlights. Powering the racer is the AR35TT, a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 with roots in the J35 V-6 that propels many of Acura’s street cars, including the newly redesigned 2018 RLX. Mazda, Nissan, and Cadillac all have cars currently running in the top class, alongside a handful of non-manufacturer-backed teams. Cadillac’s team of brothers, Ricky and Jordan Taylor, is leading the series this year with two more DPi races remaining on the calendar.
Penske will field two cars next year, with one piloted by Formula 1 alumnus Juan Pablo Montoya and 2016 Prototype champion Dane Cameron. The driver lineup for the second car isn’t finalized and will be announced at a later date.
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