The long-rumoured deal between Team Penske, Acura and Oreca to bring Penske back into prototype sportscar racing was officially announced today. The release is below however interestingly it doesn’t include an announcement of a driver lineup.
Juan Pablo Montoya is heavily prospectively linked to the programme by several publications over the past couple of months, including AUTOSPORT. Additionally the rumour mill continues to link Helio Castroneves to a move over to the Sportscar programme from 2018, with Indycar television coverage openly discussing the prospect during the Iowa Corn 300 on Sunday.
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.
“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.