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Penske To Lead Acura Into IMSA DPi

| , RacinToday.com Tuesday, July 11 2017

Roger Penske will return to sports car racing next season.

IMSA confirmed on Tuesday that Honda’s Acura marque will field a pair of ARX-05 cars in the Daytona Prototype International class of the WeatherTech Championship sports car series beginning next season.

The series also confirmed that the Acura DPi cars will be fielded in association with Team Penske.

Penske Acuras will join Cadillac, Mazda and Nissan in the DPi class and will begin competition at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January of 2018.

“This is a monumental day in the brief history of the Daytona Prototype international race car and the much longer history of IMSA,” IMSA President Scott Atherton said. “We are honored that Acura has expanded its commitment to the WeatherTech Championship through the new Acura ARX-05 DPi race car, and pleased to welcome Team Penske back to sports car competition. This announcement bolsters an already strong and growing Prototype class and only adds to the intrigue and anticipation for next season as we complete an outstanding 2017 WeatherTech Championship.

“The expansion of Acura’s involvement with a DPi entry in conjunction with Team Penske is one of the most significant developments we’ve had. Announcements like this are the ultimate validation of the DPi concept and accelerates the momentum that’s already been established. We join race fans and many others within the industry in eager anticipation for the unveiling of the Acura ARX-05 DPi later this summer and the announcement of drivers and other team personnel.”

Team Penske last competed in IMSA from 2005-09, winning P2 class championships in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón between 2006 and 2008 and fielding a GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series entry in 2009.

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. 

 Honda Performance Development was affiliated with Team Penske in Championship Auto Racing Teams competition 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.

Acura Motorsports currently campaigns the Acura NSX GT3 in the WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona (GTD) category with Michael Shank Racing, winning at Detroit Belle Isle and Watkins Glen International earlier this season.

The DPi platform – which debuted in 2017 – allows for cars in the Prototype class to be powered by a wide range of engines from the world’s leading automobile manufacturers and features manufacturer-specific bodywork and styling cues.

The Acura DPi cars will use chassis produced by ORECA.

The cars will be powered by engines 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.

Acura will look to add to its sports car legacy, which include sports car accomplishments such as 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 P1 and P2 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. 

 

A formal unveiling of the Acura ARX-05 DPi is slated for Monterey Car Week in August.

| , RacinToday.com Tuesday, July 11 2017
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