Team Penske is set to continue testing and development of the new Acura ARX-05 DPi car over the next two months, ahead of the car’s final homologation.
The new-for-2018 Prototype contender has so far completed initial tests at Road Atlanta and Sebring, with Daytona among the tracks next on its list, according to team president Tim Cindric.
“We’re in the process of trying to understand how we get to certain tracks before we end the homologation process and start the testing regulations,” Cindric told Sportscar365.
“Our schedule has been typically to run the car every two to three weeks somewhere, on permanent circuits, the focus being Sebring and Daytona.
“We’ve been able to come [to Road Atlanta]. If we can fit in a couple other permanent circuits before the weather changes, we’re trying to do that.”
Cindric said he expects the team’s second Acura DPi to come online within the next 30 days, which would allow its testing program to be ramped up to also include additional drivers.
Juan Pablo Montoya has so far done the majority of the car’s development work, with Helio Castroneves joining the Colombian at the most recent test at Sebring, and Dane Cameron expected to get his first laps in the car within the next few weeks.
“Obviously with a couple of these guys being IndyCar drivers and Dane not being able to drive until this [season] is complete, we’ve limited it to a certain degree,” Cindric said.
“But I think October, November and even part of December, we’ll be quite busy just trying to get ourselves in a position to homologate the car.”
The team made its return to sports car racing competition in last weekend’s Motul Petit Le Mans, with Castroneves, Montoya and Simon Pagenaud finishing third in an Oreca 07 Gibson, as a toe-in-the-water to help prepare for the two-car DPi effort in 2018.
Its one-off outing, however, was nearly called off following a heavy accident by Castroneves, which totaled the LMP2 car.
“We feel we’re a year behind compared to the other teams, but at the same time, I guess it shows you how important we felt like it was for our team [to be at Petit Le Mans],” Cindric said.
“Because it would have been pretty easy after last week’s [testing] incident just to not enter.
“The folks at ORECA worked all weekend, day and night to get us what we needed.”
Driver Lineups to be Finalized Shortly
Cindric said the remainder of its lineup, one full-season driver and two additional drivers for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races, should be finalized shortly.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to have our driver lineups set in the next two weeks,” he said. “There’s still a few questions out there.
“We’d like to get into testing with all six drivers in place and be able to get used to the cycle.”
Newly crowned Prototype champion Ricky Taylor is expected to be named as the fourth and full-time driver alongside Castoneves, Montoya and Cameron, in an announcement that could come as early as this week.