We a month ago, Acura announced their intentions of racing in IMSA’s DPI class next year during the 2018 WeatherTech Sports Car Championship season and beyond with Team Penske as their partner. Moments ago, the car that’s making it all happen was revealed in Pebble Beach. Say hello to the Acura ARX-05 prototype race car (pronounced A-R-X 5), the third manufacturer-supported prototype that’ll make up IMSA’s premiere motorsport class.
It will be a two car effort and both will make their competition debut at the 2018 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona with Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron sharing one of the cars. IMSA regulations for 2018 are still pending so they haven’t shared all technical details yet, but they’ve told us enough and shown enough to know this’ll be a serious contender.
Next year’s IMSA series just got a little bit more exciting.
The ARX-05 (Acura Racing eXperimental, generation 5) is the latest in a line of endurance prototypes bearing the Acura name dating back to 1991 with their most recent example competing in the American Le Mans Series until 2009. This new beast is based on the DPI-approved Oreca 07 chassis, but the bodywork and engine are all home-brewed.
Honda Performance Development (HPD) will be administering the multi-year program and Team Penske will be the team operating the two-car team. JPM and Cameron are confirmed in one car with drivers for the second car being announced at a later date.
IMSA’s Daytona Prototype International rules allow for a manufacturer to start with an approved chassis and add brand-inspired bodywork as they please (while conforming with regulations of course). For the ARX-05, Acura has integrated their signature Jewel-Eye headlights as the main identifying factor and given it a sleek body crafted by the wind tunnel. This body was designed by a team operating under Acura Global Creative Director Dave Marek, who describes the design process like so:
“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. 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.”
Because these are prototypes we’re talking about, it’s hard to make them look exactly like their road car counterparts. But it’s hard to argue against the fact that this looks stellar.
The production-based engine of choice is from the “J35” family of 3.5-liter V6 found in the Acura MDX, RDX, TLX and RLX. In race spec, it’s known as the AR35TT, a twin-turbocharged V6 that’s already seen competition in the NSX GT3 and has proven itself capable of being reliable and powerful – though they won’t say how much power it actually makes as series BOP rules dictate that.
As the 2018 WeatherTech Sports Car Championship season approaches, HPD and Team Penske may be more willing to share some of the more technical details, but for now all we have is a menacing-looking race car and the promise of Penske its all-star drivers to make the 2018 season even more worth following.