Acura has revealed that it has a firm intention to continue in the top class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship when the new LMDh prototype regulations come into force.
An “intention to go forward” into the LMDh hybrid formula, which is planned to come on stream during 2022 but enforced in 2023, was outlined by the Honda brand on the announcement that Wayne Taylor Racing and Meyer Shank Racing will run its existing ARX-05 Daytona Prototype internationals next year.
“We are not confirming an LMDh program today, though clearly that is our desire together,” said Ted Klaus, president of Honda Performance Development, which masterminds the Acura Motorsports programs.
Klaus described the opportunity to race hybrid machinery in the IMSA series for the first time as “super-exciting”.
“It will bring in fresh ideas and fresh sponsorship: the hybrid era is going to be big,” he added.
Klaus’s comments are significant because they represented the strongest commitment yet to an LMDh program in IMSA.
Klaus stressed there can be no firm commitment at present because HPD and Acura have yet to study the final LM2-based LMDh rulebook, which is due to be released today.
“We are technical people, we are racers, so we want to see the details first,” he explained. “As long as everyone keeps all the commitments we’ve been talking about with DPi 2.0 [the working title for the new category] and LMDh, it is our intention to go forward.
“There could things in there that affect the technical approach and there could be things in there that affect the business side.”
Klaus also revealed that HPD has agreed multi-year contracts with Wayne Taylor Racing and Michael Shank Racing.
The rhetoric from the teams and HPD suggests that this will take them into the 2023 season, which is likely to see the full introduction of LMDh as the top class of the IMSA series.
Klaus described the 12-month delay tacitly confirmed by IMSA boss John Doonan at last weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours as presenting a “much more practical timeframe”.
Taylor, Shank outline Le Mans hopes
Wayne Taylor Racing and Meyer Shank Racing have expressed a desire to expand their programs to include the Le Mans 24 Hours should Acura commit to LMDh.
Taylor, who competed at Le Mans 13 times as a driver and co-owned the team that masterminded Cadillac’s Northstar program in 2001-02, described a Le Mans assault as “a definite” if Acura enters LMDh.
“You know my love for Le Mans: it is the race of all races,” he said. “It is a very big draw for me and is one of the things that got the whole ball rolling [with Acura].
“I’ve won Daytona three times [as a team owner] and the last thing is that I can win Le Mans overall.”
Shank, whose team competed in the French enduro in LMP2 in 2016, explained that his team “is ready to do it”.
He continued: “I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure we are there in 2023 or ’24 or whenever the timing is correct.”
Klaus added that HPD would “support our partner teams and their sponsors” should they want to race at Le Mans.
He pointed out that Acura is a brand focused on North America that doesn’t sell cars in Europe and said that “Acura Motorsports might not be entity that goes global”.
Klaus hinted that the cars could race as Hondas if they participated in World Endurance Championship rounds.
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