Acura unveils new DPI racer ahead of 2018 IMSA debut

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Acura has unveiled its new Acura ARX-05 prototype race car at ‘The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering’. Acura Motorsports will partner with Team Penske to field a two-car Daytona Prototype International (DPi) entry in the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

The ARX-05 is the latest endurance prototype to be fielded by the brand since 1991. Based on the successful Oreca 07 chassis, the ARX-05 prototype features Acura-specific bodywork and design features, including the brand’s signature ‘Jewel Eye’ headlights. Powering the car will be the proven AR35TT twin-turbocharged engine, which is based on the production ‘J35’ family of 3.5-liter V6 engines that 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 engine also powered entries to American Le Mans Series LMP2 titles in 2012-13; and the overall winners at the Rolex 24, 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans in 2016.

The multi-year DPi program will be administered by Honda Performance Development (HPD), the racing arm for both Acura Motorsports and Honda Racing in North America. The competition debut of the Team Penske Acura prototypes will take place at the season-opening Rolex 24 in January, 2018. One of the team’s two ARX-05 entries will be piloted by Juan Pablo Montoya along with sports car champion Dane Cameron. The second driver pairing will be announced at a later date.

“Right from the start, Acura has raced – and done so successfully,” said Art St. Cyr, president of HPD and Acura Motorsports. “We’ve won with the Acura Integra Type R, the RSX, the first-generation NSX and with the Le Mans prototypes. Most recently, we’ve won with the new Acura NSX GT3. The ARX-05 is our fifth-generation prototype, and we expect great things from our partnership with Team Penske.”

DPi rules require manufacturers to use one of four approved prototype chassis, fitted with IMSA-homologated, manufacturer-designed and branded bodywork and engines. In the case of the ARX-05, the bodywork was developed by a team led by Acura global creative director Dave Marek.

“We created a variety of initial sketches, then pared those down a handful of potential designs. Next came aero and wind tunnel model testing, and time for the engineers to have their say,” Marek recounted. “The design continued to be refined throughout the testing and evaluation process, until we came up with a final treatment that met our performance goals while maintaining Acura styling cues. It’s been an exciting process.”

“The Acura DPi is the latest example of an automotive manufacturer applying key design features and technology from its consumer vehicles into a world-class racing application,” added IMSA president Scott Atherton, who was on hand for the unveiling. “Acura and Team Penske join a formidable WeatherTech Championship Prototype class that includes race-winning DPi programs from Cadillac and Nissan, a Mazda DPi team that should be highly competitive in 2018 through its new relationship with Joest Racing along with several highly professional and competitive LM P2 programs. “On behalf of the France family and everybody at IMSA, it is truly an honor to congratulate Acura and Team Penske on the unveiling of this striking new race car. We join race fans everywhere in great anticipation of seeing it on the racetrack soon.”

The team and car already have tested at France’s Circuit Paul Ricard and will continue a rigorous testing schedule throughout the next several months before its competition debut in the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 27-28, 2018.

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John joined UKi Media & Events in 2012 and has worked across a range of B2B titles within the company's automotive portfolio. Prior to joining the company, John worked for leading automotive design website, Car Design News. Currently editor of Engine Technology International, Professional MotorSport World, Professional MotorSport Circuit, and Transmission Technology International, John co-ordinates the day-the-day operations of each magazine, from commissioning and writing to editing and signing-off, as well managing web and social media content. Aside from the magazines, John also serves as chairman of the annual Professional MotorSport World Awards.

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