Acura Motorsports today announced it will join forces with Team Penske to field a prototype effort in the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The program will include a pair of new Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype International (DPi) entries, fielded under the legendary Team Penske banner.
The official competition debut will take place at the season-opening Rolex 24 in January, 2018. Testing of the Acura DPi will begin soon, with a formal unveiling of the ARX-05 slated for Monterey Car Week in August. The driver lineup will be announced at a future date.
(Editor’s Note: The driver lineup for the Team Penske entry is rumored to be Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves!)
“Roger Penske is already an important part of the Acura family as one of our great Acura dealers, and now it is a thrill to have him as part of the Acura Motorsports family as well,” said Jon Ikeda, Acura senior vice president and general manager. “We look forward to building on the success of the race-winning NSX GT3 program, and couldn’t be more thrilled to return to the prototype category of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a partner like Team Penske.”
“We are excited to join forces with the Honda Performance Development family and represent the Acura brand with two prototypes starting in 2018,” said Team Penske Founder Roger Penske. “Sports car racing has been an integral part of Team Penske’s heritage, from our first race at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1966 to running the American Le Mans Series in the late 2000s. Reviving a Team Penske sports car program has always been a goal for us, but to do so required strong and successful partners like Honda and Acura. It’s great to extend our relationship from the dealership to the race track and we are excited to come back to IMSA and the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.”
The Acura ARX-05 [Acura Racing eXperimental, generation 5] is the latest in a line of endurance prototypes to be fielded by the company dating back to 1991, just five years after the 1986 launch of the Acura brand. Based on the very successful ORECA 07 chassis, the new ARX-05 prototype features Acura-specific bodywork and utilizes the race-proven, production-based Acura AR35TT twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine.
The multi-year program will be administered by Honda Performance Development, the racing arm for both Acura Motorsports and Honda Racing in North America.
“We had a very spirited competition with Team Penske during our previous ALMS Acura prototype programs, and we are looking forward to working with, instead of against, Team Penske as the ideal partner for our return to the prototype ranks,” said Art St. Cyr, HPD president. “We also had a great deal of success together in CART and IndyCar competition, and Team Penske’s overall record in all forms of racing is unrivaled in our sport.”
The Acura ARX-05 will add to a rich legacy of Acura sports car racing campaigns and championships, including the 1991-93 IMSA Camel Lights manufacturer and driver championships; 50 IMSA and American Le Mans Series class or overall race victories [through Watkins Glen 2017]; and the 2009 American Le Mans Series manufacturer, driver and team championships in both the LMP1 and LMP2 classes.
Acura Motorsports currently campaigns the Acura NSX GT3 in the IMSA GTD category with Michael Shank Racing – where it has already won IMSA GTD races at Detroit and Watkins Glen this season – as well as with Real Time Racing in the Pirelli World Challenge GT division.
One of the most recognizable names in motorsports, Team Penske has scored victories in nearly every series in which the team has competed. With more than 460 major race wins and 29 national championships, including 14 in INDYCAR and 10 in sports car competition, Team Penske is among the most successful teams in the history of professional sports.
More than 30 years after first winning at the highest levels of sports car racing, Team Penske returned to its roots with a successful LMP2-class effort in the American Le Mans Series from 2005-08, winning class championships between 2006 and 2008.
HPD was affiliated with Team Penske in Championship Auto Racing Teams Competition (CART) in 2000 and 2001. The partnership resulted in 10 race wins, two drivers’ championships (both for Gil de Ferran), and the 2001 CART Manufacturers’ Championship.
More recently, during the single-supplier era in IndyCar Series competition, Penske and HPD combined for two Indianapolis 500 victories (Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006 and Helio Castroneves in 2009), plus the drivers’ title for Hornish in 2006.
Born out of founder Hugues de Chaunac’s passion for racing, ORECA began life in 1972 and has visited Victory Circle in a variety of motorsports disciplines, ranging from prototype endurance events to open-wheel to touring car and rallycross competition. Teams using ORECA chassis have won more than 350 races, to go with more than 40 national and international titles.
Based on the “J35” family of engines found in Acura RDX, MDX, RLX and TLX production vehicles, the Acura AR35TT engine to be used in the ARX-05 was initially adapted for racing in a joint effort between HPD and Honda R&D Americas. Used in a variety of prototype chassis, the engine has powered class winners at the 12 Hours of Sebring (2011-13); the 24 Hours of Le Mans and LMP2 World Endurance Championship (2012); the American Le Mans Series LMP2 titles (2012-13); and the overall winners at the Rolex 24, 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans in 2016.
About Team Penske
Team Penske is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports and celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2016. Cars owned and prepared by Team Penske have produced more than 460 major race wins, over 520 pole positions and 29 National Championships across open-wheel, stock car and sports car racing competition. In its storied history, the team has also earned 16 Indianapolis 500 victories, two Daytona 500 Championships, a Formula 1 win and overall victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. Team Penske currently competes in the Verizon IndyCar Series, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series. The team also races in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, in a partnership with Dick Johnson Racing, as DJR Team Penske. For more information about Team Penske, please visit www.teampenske.com.
Acura is a leading automotive luxury nameplate that delivers Precision Crafted Performance, an original approach to technology and design that creates a new driving experience. On March 27, 2016, Acura celebrated the 30th anniversary of its launch as the first luxury nameplate from a Japanese automaker.
The Acura lineup features six distinctive models – the RLX premium, luxury sedan, the TLX performance luxury sedan, the ILX sport sedan, the 5-passenger RDX luxury crossover SUV, and the seven-passenger Acura MDX, America’s all-time best-selling three-row luxury SUV. This spring, Acura launched its next-generation, electrified NSX supercar as a new and pinnacle expression of Acura Precision Crafted Performance.
About Honda Performance Development
HPD was founded in 1993 to spearhead American Honda’s entry into Indy car racing. No other manufacturer has matched the company’s success in Indy cars, which includes 225 race victories, 15 drivers’ championships, six competitive manufacturers’ championships and 12 Indianapolis 500 victories since 2004.
HPD, Acura and Honda have a history of success in endurance sports car racing, with more than 100 prototype victories since 1991, including either class or overall victories at the Rolex 24, 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans. Acura and HPD swept all prototype championships in the 2009 American Le Mans Series; and won the North American Endurance Championship manufacturers’ title in 2016. Prior to the founding of HPD in 1993, Acura won 25 races and three consecutive IMSA Camel Lights Championships from 1991-93
HPD’s Acura and Honda engines have recorded 78 race wins at endurance sports car races around the world, with 70 of those victories coming in the HPD-developed line of sports prototype cars. For more information about HPD and the company’s racing product lines, please visit http://hpd.honda.com.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!