Words: David Cordell, Hybrid Racing
Racing is in the Honda DNA. Most people that purchase Hondas never consider that the founder was a true racing nut. Over the last decade or so, Honda lost that focus and began to make some questionable choices throughout its American lineup that is still felt in the Acura division today. While Honda tries to rebuild their once dominating luxury brand, Acura, into something that can better compete against other premium and performance oriented brands like Infiniti and Lexus, Honda needed to refocus and bring back the magic that was once so appealing.
Cue up their latest and greatest technological masterpiece, the 2017 NSX.
Now, I won’t go into all of the nit-picky details about this amazing machine as there are countless written and filmed reviews online that will all generally say the same thing. It’s the beginning of something great. Instead, we will take a closer look at the race only version of this car developed by Honda Performance Development and Michael Shank Racing out of Ohio.
The new NSX GT3 shown in a bare, all carbon body during pre-season testing last November.
The cars were numbered #93, which marks the opening year of Honda Performance Development in the USA, and #86 which was the first year Acura sold cars in the USA… both significant achievements that paved the way to Honda’s performance image in America.
Michael Shank Racing teamed up with Acura to develop the new NSX GT3 which was also partly developed in Europe. Approved by the FIA, the new GT3 NSX is set and certified to take on races in all parts of the world in its specific class. Developed from the road going NSX, the GT3 uses the factory “multi-material body” with an aluminum space frame that’s built in Ohio. MSR says the GT3 “is about 60 percent stock” adding that the racing car utilizes and all carbon fiber body instead of the aluminum production panels. There are also additional aerodynamic add-ons, different suspension, brake and wheel components that are specific to the GT3.
The NSX cockpit uses carbon fiber where possible in addition to the FIA approved safety systems that are required on call sanctioned racing cars of that class. It also uses two, rather small lithium ion batteries as the primary power supply.
MSR / Acura debuted their new racing program at this year’s 55th running Rolex 24 at Daytona last weekend. With an all new car and racing program, the team set up with over 30 team members that would manage just two cars.
“The 3.5-liter racing engine uses the same design specifications as the production Acura NSX, including the block, heads, valve train, crankshaft, pistons and dry-sump lubrication system.” Since all wheel drive is not allowed in this racing class, the GT3 ditches the two front electric motors and replaces the OE gearbox with a six-speed, sequential-shift racing gearbox that delivers power to the rear wheels only.
Packed with the standard class size 27-gallon fuel tank the NSX GT3 tips the scales at an amazing 2,900lbs which is nearly 1,000lbs lighter than the road going version.
After 24 grueling hours racing against other leading auto manufacturers like Mercedes, Porsche, Lexus, Lamborghini, Audi, BMW, Aston Martin and of course, Ferrari, the MSR / HPD team managed to bring home a 5th place class finish and due to on-track contact, the #93 car was forced to retire and was placed in 11th. Both cars showed extremely strong pace throughout the race with them leading nearly 200 laps and most cases running 1-2.
Overall, the NSX GT3′s inaugural race was a positive one showing that these cars truly have the pace to compete with some of the best in the world. We look forward to following Michael Shank Racing and HPD to victory lane in the months to come. Follow along and catch the next IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship race at Sebring International Raceway in March.
Credits: www.michaelshankracing.com, www.acuranews.com, www.autoblog.com, www.automobilemag.com