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Acura ARX-05 formally revealed at The Quail (PHOTOS)

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After a teaser video was released a couple weeks ago, the formal, full unveil of Acura’s new ARX-05 prototype for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, to be fielded by Team Penske, took place today at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, in Monterey.

A photo from a private, VIP event emerged on social media on Thursday night ahead of the proper unveil, but now the car is officially out in the open for all to see.

A striking nose assembly section to the ARX-05, on top of the base Oreca 07 chassis, is perhaps the most notable visual identifier on the car.

The full release and a handful of photos are below.

Acura today unveiled the new Acura ARX-05 prototype race car at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. Acura Motorsports will join forces with the legendary Team Penske organization to field a pair of the new Daytona Prototype International (DPi) entries in the 2018 IMSA 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 brand dating to 1991, just five years after the 1986 launch of the Acura marque. Based on the very successful ORECA 07 chassis, the new ARX-05 prototype showcases Acura-specific bodywork and design features, including Acura’s signature Jewel Eye™ headlights, and utilizes the race-proven AR35TT twin-turbocharged engine, based on the production 3.5-liter V-6 that powers the Acura MDX, RDX, TLX and RLX models.

Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) race car to be campaigned by Team Penske in 2018

“At Acura, Precision Crafted Performance is at the heart of everything we do.” said Jon Ikeda, Acura vice-president and general manager. “Whether it is our production cars or a prototype race car, if you want to be a performance brand you need to perform.”

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 the legendary 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.”

Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) race car to be campaigned by Team Penske in 2018

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.”

Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) race car to be campaigned by Team Penske in 2018

The Acura ARX-05 will add to a rich legacy of Acura sports car racing successes, 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.

Based on the “J35” family of engines found in Acura MDX, RDX, TLX and RLX production vehicles, the Acura AR35TT 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 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.

Acura Motorsports currently campaigns the Acura NSX GT3 in the IMSA GTD category with Michael Shank Racing – where it has already won at Detroit and Watkins Glen this season – as well as with Real Time Racing in the Pirelli World Challenge GT division.

Following today’s official unveiling, the Acura ARX-05 will also be on display at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (August 19) and on the Concept Lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance (August 20).

Penske, Acura DPi program formally confirmed

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After months of speculation and anticipation, Team Penske’s return to top flight sports car racing has been made official on Tuesday.

The Penske and Acura Daytona Prototype international (DPi) program will premiere in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a two-car effort.

The full release is below.

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.

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.

Rebellion bounced from second in LMP2, third overall at Le Mans

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Vaillante Rebellion’s No. 13 Oreca 07 Gibson has been disqualified following post-race technical inspection at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The car was found to have modified bodywork on the engine cover in the form of a hole cut, which could help aid mechanics in restarting the car after pit stops and with starter issues having popped up earlier.

Here’s the formal release from the ACO:

During the post-race technical checks, certain irregularities were detected on the Vaillante Rebellion team’s #13 Oreca 07-Gibson, resulting in the car’s disqualification from the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Two infractions were noted by the technical marshals:

  • Modification to the body, found to be in technical non-compliance (decision of the stewards #58)
  • Unauthorized intervention in the closed park after the race (decision of the stewards #59)

The Vaillante Rebellion has confirmed its intention to file an appeal with the officials.

This disqualification causes a change to the overall classification for the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans. Jackie Chan DC Racing’s second car, the #37 driven by Cheng-Gommendy-Brundle, now claims the third step on the podium just behind its sister car, the #38, and the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid.

With the car in breach of regulations, the No. 13 car shared by Nelson Piquet Jr., Mathias Beche and David Heinemeier Hansson has now lost second place in LMP2 and third place overall.

DHH posted a couple tweets below; the team added it would have more to say once the investigation was complete.

Jackie Chan DC Racing now finishes 1-2 in LMP2 and 2-3 overall, the No. 37 Oreca of David Cheng, Tristan Gommendy and Alex Brundle the beneficiary, while Signatech Alpine’s No. 35 Alpine A470 of Nelson Panciatici, Pierre Ragues and Andre Negrao gets an LMP2 podium after all despite Negrao’s late off-course excursion at Arnage corner.

Jani, Rebellion secure the pole for 12 Hours of Sebring

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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SEBRING, Fla. – A Rebellion defeated the Galactic Empire (the trio of Cadillac DPi-V.Rs) in the first battle to win the war that is Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, with Neel Jani’s LMP2-spec Oreca 07 Gibson emerging ahead of Christian Fittipaldi’s Daytona Prototype international (DPi)-spec Cadillac for pole.

Full qualifying reports are below:

PROTOTYPE

Jani has delivered Rebellion Racing the overall pole for Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with a record (since IMSA merger of 2014) lap time at the 17-turn, 3.74-mile Sebring International Raceway circuit.

Jani uncorked a flier of 1:48.178, which smashed the previous mark of 1:51.152 set in 2015 by Olivier Pla, in a previous generation LMP2-spec car, the Ligier JS P2 Judd for Krohn Racing.

Jani shares Rebellion’s No. 13 Oreca 07 Gibson with Nick Heidfeld and Sebastien Buemi.

It was less than a tenth ahead of the top of the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) car, Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R at 1:48.273.

Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa, who won overall at Sebring with Sebastien Bourdais for the Action Express team in 2015, roll off second with third driver Filipe Albuquerque; the trio finished second at Daytona.

The second Action Express car, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac qualified by Dane Cameron, starts third.

The No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac, which won the Rolex 24, starts sixth with the car shared by Ricky and Jordan Taylor and U.S. debutante Alex Lynn.

GT LE MANS

Two of the three Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs completed a front row lockout in the GT Le Mans class.

The two U.S.-based, Indianapolis-housed entries were 1-2 with Ryan Briscoe edging Dirk Mueller for the pole position. Briscoe’s time in the No. 67 Ford he shares with Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon was 1:55.931, which was nearly a full 2.5 seconds faster than last year’s pole, Bill Auberlen at 1:58.402 in a BMW M6 GTLM.

Mueller laid down a 1:56.175 in the No. 66 Ford, which looked good before Briscoe’s lap. Mueller, Joey Hand and Sebastien Bourdais are going for both their own and Ford’s triple endurance race sweep at Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring and will start their quest from second.

The pair of Corvette C7.Rs, which themselves have split the last two Sebring races between them, start third and fifth with the No. 4 car qualified by Tommy Milner ahead of the No. 3 car qualified by Antonio Garcia. Kevin Estre split the pair of yellow Corvettes in his No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR. Top BMW was Nicky Catsburg in eighth, at 0.678 off the pole.

Nine of the top 10 cars in class were separated by 0.721 of a second, with the only exception the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE of Giancarlo Fisichella more than 1.5 seconds off the pace.

GT DAYTONA

Past Pro Mazda combatants Tristan Vautier and Connor De Phillippi relived their open-wheel battle for supremacy now in sports cars, both having found homes in their new teams, in the quest for GT Daytona class pole at Sebring.

Vautier took the top spot in the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 to deliver the car its first IMSA pole, having obliterated last year’s track record. Vautier’s pole lap was 1:59.738, more than 2.5 seconds quicker than Jeff Segal’s last year in the debuting No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 at 2:02.350.

The French driver now lives in North Carolina near the team’s headquarters, and shares the car with Kenny Habul and Boris Said.

De Phillippi, meanwhile will start the No. 29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS from the same position the car finished at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, second. His best lap of 2:00.490 was over seven tenths of a second in arrears. He shares the car with Christopher Mies and Jules Gounon.

Posting an impressive run to third was Corey Lewis in the No. 16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, which is a built up new chassis after an accident at Daytona. Lewis, who was in potential win position at Sebring last year for Robby Benton’s team before passing the pace car to trigger an improper wave around, shares the car with fellow youngsters Jeroen Mul and Brett Sandberg; Mul is new to Sebring.

The pair of 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 entries clocked in fourth and fifth for their second race, the No. 15 car qualified by Robert Alon ahead of the No. 14 car qualified by Scott Pruett.

Christina Nielsen qualified the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 10th as the team looks for a rebound after an engine issue halted their Daytona hopes and after she, Alessandro Balzan and Segal won here last year. This year’s Daytona winners Alegra Motorsports start 12th, with Daniel Morad qualifying the team’s No. 28 Porsche 911 GT3 R. NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell is 15th on the grid in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Audi R8 LMS.

PROTOTYPE CHALLENGE

Gustavo Yacaman took the PC class pole in the No. 26 BAR1 Motorsports Oreca FLM09, his first WeatherTech Championship pole since 2014 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park before he won the race overall in an OAK Racing Morgan Nissan. Yacaman shares the car with Colin Thompson, Marc Drumwright and Chapman Ducote. Yacaman’s pole time of 1:53.506 beat last year’s pole time by more than 2.3 seconds set by Tom Kimber-Smith, which was a 1:55.843.

Rolex 24 winners Performance Tech Motorsports start second after James French qualified its No. 38 car; he shares that car with Pato O’Ward and Kyle Masson. French only just missed the pole at a lap of 1:53.575.

LMP2 chassis constructors named ahead of standardization in 2017

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The FIA, ACO and IMSA have announced the four constructors that will be building LMP2 chassis for across their respective series and races as of 2017.

In a bid to curb costs within LMP2 racing, it was confirmed back in June that only four constructors would be able to build chassis for the class in the FIA World Endurance Championship (including 24 Hours of Le Mans), European Le Mans Series, Asian Le Mans Series and the Tudor United SportsCar Championship as of 2017.

On Thursday, it was confirmed that Dallara, Onroak Automotive, Oreca and Riley Tech/Multimatic have won the tender ahead of the regulation change.

“The Automobile Club de l’Ouest is proud of the work that’s been done on the future LMP2 category regulations, which has resulted in the selection of four prestigious chassis constructors: Dallara, Onroak Automotive, Oreca and Riley Tech/Multimatic,” ACO president Pierre Fillon said.

“Our priority is to supply the teams and drivers entered in this category with the best options and solutions to race in endurance on a long-term basis.

“Thanks to the decisions taken jointly by the ACO, IMSA and the FIA we have managed to bring together a high-quality pool of constructors which reinforces the interest in the series and its glowing future prospects.”

The ACO and FIA will jointly announce which manufacturer has won the tender to supply engines for its championships’ LMP2 classes in September.

In the Tudor Championship, engine supply will not be limited to just one manufacturer, and all chassis will have manufacturer-specific styling elements.

“The Dallara, Onroak Automotive, Oreca and Riley Tech/Multimatic teams now will join the technical working group jointly managed by the ACO, the FIA and IMSA to define the final details of the regulations,” a joint statement from the three bodies reads.

“One of the main objectives of this working group is to optimise all of the parameters to ensure the most economically viable set of rules for the teams.

“The final set of provisions of the LMP2 regulations will be adopted by the World Motor Sport Council in December of this year, and the timetable will respect the following five stages:

  • 1st January 2016: validation of the safety structures/monocoque;
  • 1st April 2016: validation of the bodywork and the mechanical components;
  • 1st June 2016: validation of the crash test;
  • 1st September 2016: presentation of the draft homologation sheet;
  • From 1 – 15 December 2016: inspection and final validation of the car

“The cars must be homologated by, and available for use in January 2017 for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the first race at which the new TUDOR Championship Prototype / LMP2 category regulations will be applied.”