Acura will fight in IMSA’s top class next season with an all-new prototype built within the LMDh ruleset. Appropriately named the ARX-06, it will carry the torch after five very competitive seasons run with the ARX-05, built on the outgoing DPi class. Beginning next year with the 2023 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, IMSA has a new top prototype class to replace DPi, and Acura will be there along with BMW, Cadillac, and Porsche. And with this unveiling today, we finally know what next year’s GTP field will look like – a damn good time.
The world of prototype sports car racing has been a very weird and complex one for the last couple years. Acura’s choice to run in IMSA GTP competition is unsurprising given the numerous race wins and championships the ARX-05 DPi car has to its name. And their choice to develop the car within the LMDh ruleset is the most logical as it’s what most of their competitors will be using, within GTP and it’s the ruleset that IMSA themselves came up with. LMDh in a nutshell is a chassis from one of four approved suppliers, a spec hybrid unit from a single source, OEM-specific bodywork, and an engine of their design.
Acura is continuing their relationship with Oreca as their chassis supplier – they also worked with Oreca for the ARX-05. This chassis is a good bit different than the one developed for DPi but unsurprisingly they didn’t reveal many details around that. Most of the changes are likely for packaging for the hybrid motor and battery and revised aerodynamic rules that allow more design freedom for brands.
Built around that chassis is bodywork that’s instantly recognizable as an Acura. Certain features look quite similar to the ARX-05, namely the headlights and the pointy beak-like nose it has. But the more you look at it the more differences you can pick out. LMDh allows for some more design freedom, much more than in DPi. The whole front clip, side pods, and tail light area can be designed to resemble the brand’s own unique style present in their road cars. The design was led by Acura Design Studio in LA in conjunction with Honda Performance Development (HPD) and Oreca. “The process we used in creating the exterior design for the Acura ARX-06 is exactly the same as how we create a new Acura passenger vehicle,” said Dave Marek, Acura Executive Creative Director.
Power comes from a brand new “AR24e” power unit developed by HPD specifically for the ARX-06. It’s a 2.4-liter twin-turbocharged V6 with direct injection and a 90-degree V-angle to reduce its center of gravity and polar moment of inertia. They’ve also designed the combustion chamber to be run on sustainable low-carbon fuel. But crucially, it will take full advantage of the 10,000 RPM redline as set by the LMDh regulations. So that’s gonna be fun.
This engine won’t be working alone though as LMDh requires a electric motor generator unit from Bosch and a battery pack from Williams Advanced Engineering. The MGU is contained within a spec transmission casing and gearbox internals provided by Xtrac. The battery is stored within the chassis survival cell. HPD was responsible for the hybrid powertrain control system, brake-by-wire, and vehicle dynamics control system (traction control).
The livery Acura made for this demonstration car may or may not resemble the final product, but it does pay tribute to the two teams who will continue to represent Acura in IMSA competition. One side has pink accents while the other side has blue – that’s for Meyer Shank Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing, respectively, who Acura will continue to work with to field a pair of ARX-06s in IMSA GTP next year. Following three successful years with Penske Racing, Acura turned to MSR and WRT in 2021 and the success has continued. No reason for a change there considering that both teams are in contention for the Driver’s and Teams’ championships with Acura unofficially claiming the Manufacturers’ championship.
So with all their recent victories and titles, Acura will be the car to watch next year. But Cadillac has always been strong and BMW and Porsche know how to build a good race car. It all kicks off at next year’s Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. Acura has not announced their intentions for Le Mans or WEC competition one way or another, but they are eligible.
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