Endurance racing is one of the worlds toughest forms of motorsports. Even on a basic level, keeping a high performance car racing full out for a long period of time is challenging.
Sprinkle in OE manufacturers, experimental technology, professional and gentlemen drivers, about 60 different cars and you have one hell of an event. Oh, and you have to race flat our for 24 hours only to stop for fuel and tire changes... yea, it's not easy.
Since 1991, the Acura brand has been involved in motorsports throughout America. From the IMSA GT series to SCCA Racing, Honda fans know some of these cars all too well. The Comptech Racing powered Spice-Honda stands out as Acura's first endurance race class win in 1991. It would go on to win the championship in 92' and 93' winning its class at Daytona and Sebring.
The Comptech Racing developed Acura NSX engine was used in the Spice SE90P and made over 400hp with a 5-speed manual gearbox.
Years later in 2007, Acura would announce their entry into the American Le Mans Series with a chassis built by Lola and an American built V8. They would go on to do well in the LMP2 class by having a few top 5 finishes. The following season Acura would go on to develop their car so much it generated its own name called the ARX-01, and then the ARX-01B (pictured below.)
The first top tier LMP1 chassis came in 2009, dubbed the ARX-02a. (pictured below) This car would feature the LM-AR7 (Le Mans - Acura Racing version 7) 4 liter NA V8 and a 6-speed sequential transmission. The ARX-02a would never win a race and the financial crisis of 2008 would mark a change for future programs.
In 2010 a shift of image for Honda and Acura meant that all future Prototype cars would be branded as HPD ending with the HPD ARX-03.
In 2015, HPD would comission the development of a new chassis with long time partner Wirth Research called the ARX-04a (LMP1) and the ARX-04b (LMP2). This car would only compete in one race (Rolex 24 2015) before being withdrawn from the series due to having significant aerodynamic deficiencies.
Acura would return to the world of endurance racing a few years later in 2018 with a new car and rule set for the DPi class. This would be a chassis built by French designer Oreca.
New rules allowed for Acura styling cues and a production based "J35" powerplant. Named the AR35TT, the V6 turbo used off the shelf BW turbos and a sequential gearbox. Power was class limited to 600hp.
With a consistent debut, Acura Motorsports would go on to win the drivers, teams and constructors championships in 2019 and 2020 however they would not earn a victory in either of the two classic endurance races - Daytona or Sebring.
In 2021, the Acura program would change from Team Penske to two seperate teams that would field one ARX-05 each. With the combined efforts Wayne Taylor Racing would give Acura its first overall victory in a top class endurance race - the 2021 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
For 2022, Meyer Shank Racing pulled through with Acura to win a second 1st overall victory with drivers Helio Castroneves, Oliver Jarvis, Tom Blomqvist and Simon Pagenaud.
This brings us to last weekend's event which proved yet again the Acura is determined to win... securing a third-in-a-row overall victory at one of the worlds hardest races, the Rolex 24.
Competing in a new era of Prototype racing the Acura ARX-06 comforms to new LMDH GTP rules.
"The Acura AR24e power unit was developed by Honda Performance Development to bring electrification to the Precision Crafted Performance of Acura's endurance sports car racing program. The complete hybrid power unit is based around the Acura AR24e internal combustion engine (ICE), an all-new bespoke 2.4-lliter, twin-turbocharged direct injection racing V6 that was designed, developed and manufactured by HPD.
At 2.4 liters, this is the smallest displacement ICE conceived by HPD for endurance racing, yet still meets the performance target of 500 kW as measured at the rear axle by torque meters. It features a 90-degree V-angle to reduce its center of gravity and polar moment of inertia. In addition, the combustion chamber has been designed to run on sustainable low-carbon fuel.
The hybrid power plant includes an IMSA-specified electric Bosch Motor Generator Unit (MGU) and Williams Advanced Engineering battery pack. The MGU is contained in a common transmission casing and gearbox internals provided by Xtrac. The battery, within the chassis survival cell, is built by Williams Advanced Engineering. The HPD Electrical Group completed both hardware and software development to best match the spec MGU and battery pack to the Acura ICE."
Racer Magazine's Marshall Pruit gets a close up look at the ARX-06's powertrain.
Thanks for reading along if you got this far, I know Acura Motorsports is excited about the future with a renewed effort in developing new technology for their cars... and so are we!