Acura breathes fresh life into prototype program with ARX-05
Acura has used The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering at Monterey Car Week to unveil its latest prototype endurance racer, the ARX-05. With power from a twin-turbo V6 and a dramatic aero setup, the company is gearing the car up for a tilt at the 2018 IMSA SportsCar Championship.
Although the Honda NSX is badged an Acura in America, the brand isn't exactly known for its racing prowess. In spite of that, the company actually has a long history in endurance racing. The first ARX (Acura Racing eXperimental) debuted in 1991, and the ARX-02 through ARX-04 have been doing the rounds – both in America and abroad – since 2009.
The ARX-05 is built around an ORECA 07 chassis, the same one underpinning the Jackie Chan DC Racing LMP2 car that led a significant portion of the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year. Unlike the standard V8 ORECA car, the Acura is powered by a twin-turbocharged AR35TT V6 engine, which is based on the V6 fitted to Acura's road cars, including the MDX SH-AWC. The company hasn't announced power figures for the racer, but the engine makes 325 hp (242 kW) in road-going trim, whatever that's worth.
To make sure it stays grounded on the curves of Daytona, the Acura design team has created a bespoke aerodynamics package on the ARX-05. The nose certainly looks more complicated than that of the regular ORECA 07 prototype, with a beaky floating spoiler and dainty little flics on its outside corners. The bubble-shaped cockpit is flanked by skinny sidepods, complete with some interesting shapes spread around the air intakes.
"We created a variety of initial sketches, then pared those down a handful of potential designs," says Acura Global Creative Director, Dave Marek. "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."
Acura has gone all-out with its driver lineup, calling on the services of ex-F1 and NASCAR driver Juan Pablo-Montoya. He'll be joined by sports car racer Dane Cameron in the lead car, with the driver pairing for the second car yet to be announced. The car will make its competition debut in the Daytona Prototype International class of the IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship, where the company will be racing in partnership with Team Penske.