After the first teasers and test shots, the American sports and luxury brand Honda Acura officially presented its new racing prototype. The ARX-06 combines the know-how from Formula 1 and IndyCar and competes in America against BMW and Porsche, among others. But can he also go to Le Mans?
Honda does not currently dominate Formula 1. Only in the IMSA North American Sports Car Championship has the competition been taught to fear a lot this season. With the 24 Hours of Daytona at the end of January, partner team Meyer Shank Racing directly won the most important event of the season. This was followed by victories at Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen and Road America. With the ARX-06, now being offered in Monterey, California, the goal is to continue this success story – however, competition will increase significantly due to the introduction of LMDh regulations next year.
BMW, Cadillac and Porsche are already testing competition software. In addition, supercars (LMH) projects from the WEC Sports Car Championship are also welcome in the first IMSA Championship at the start of the 2023 race year. While no one from the ranks of Ferrari, Peugeot and Toyota has failed, the first dual programs are expected by 2024 at the latest. Then the LMDh programs from Alpine and Lamborghini will join the burgeoning prototype scene.
Genes from Formula 1 and IndyCar
The ARX-06, with its signature Boomerang frontend, lines up in the illustrious racing prototype history of Americans. Since 2007, Honda Performance Development (HPD) – the US racing division – has been operating open and closed LM machines in the United States. In the American series Le Mans, which preceded the IMSA series, many successes were collected. With a standard hybrid of up to 50 kW of power specified by LMDh, the ARX-06 is one of the most demanding new developments.
Pierre Decamps, Head of the Engine Design Team, looks back: “The Honda V6 is still a typical, but we chose the parts to make the most of the MGU’s unified electric unit and battery pack. Our new engine spins at up to 10,000 rpm, so it’s on the upper end. regulations, so the sound is also great.”
In detail, the Acura AR24e’s engine is a 2.4-liter, 90-degree, twin-turbocharged V6. Compared to the V8 launchers in the competition and its predecessor, the ARX-06 has a much smaller displacement. Nevertheless, HPD is confident that the different approach fits well into the structure controlled by the Balance of Performance (BoP). Like its competitors, it has a maximum power of 500 kW (680 hp) on the rear axle. “ARX-06 integrates winning technology from IndyCar, Formula 1 and the 24 Hours of Daytona,” says David Salters, HPD President and former Honda F1 engine man. A concrete example is the F1 based console.
Unit body with special design
While the engine is an in-house American development, the chassis is based on collaboration with French specialist Oreca. Along with Dallara, Ligier and Multimatic, the manufacturer is one of the only four FIA-approved monolithic suppliers. Acura has already worked with the Signes men and women on the DPi regulations, which expire after this season. Compared to the current set of rules, manufacturers were given additional design options. The DNA Acura can be seen, among other things, in the front captured from the DPi era with its tall LED strips and raised rear wheel arches.
As in developing the series, designers from Acura were involved in the exterior lines, who then worked on the aerospace theme on a set of ideas with the aerospace division. In addition, the teams and their drivers were asked to support. For example, tests using virtual reality goggles in the simulated cockpit have shown that a new position of the mirrors enables a better compromise between safety and flight efficiency.
Teams set, Le Mans stays open
Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) and Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) will also feature Acura in the top IMSA class GTP class next season. A car is delivered to each team. While WTR focuses purely on long distances, MSR also competes in the IndyCar series. Honda wants to use a hybrid there in 2024, which has the same basic technical requirements as the AR24e. It’s an open secret that drives aren’t just the same on paper.
It remains unclear if the screaming of 10,000 rpm will be heard at Le Mans and in the WEC. Although Acura and HPD have the sport cap in North America, on a global scale, the corporate headquarters must be decided upon. The fact that the Japanese brand that has been so successful in racing isn’t much represented at Le Mans of all places makes the situation tricky.
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