Honda Performance Development President David Salters revealed that the Acura ARX-06’s previous longest continuous on-track run was “four or five hours” prior to the Rolex 24 at Daytona, where the manufacturer claimed an impressive 1-2 finish in the car’s debut race.
Of the four LMDh manufacturers taking part in last weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener, Acura was the only brand to not have attempted a 24 or 36-hour endurance test in the buildup to the platform’s launch season.
Instead, Salters explained that extensive static bench testing was undertaken, as well as simulation and numerous on-track sessions, but never lasting nearly the length of the Rolex 24 itself.
“We did the miles, we just didn’t do them all in one hit,” Salters explained.
“We know this game, so we did the miles. We just actually really didn’t get the opportunity due to some sort of [continuous endurance test]. it’s always a balance when you make a car.
“You’re trying to push the development as far as you can, but make sure you make it work.
“I would always go on the side of make the fast car first, so we probably did in one continuous run — and I’d need to check — with the car, four or five hours. But we did lots of slots of that.
“And then on the dyno, we have a full hybrid powertrain. That thing did tens of thousands of miles, and the car did tens of thousands of miles. We just didn’t put it all together. But apparently it’s okay!”
The Meyer Shank Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acuras ran without any major setbacks, with the race-winning No. 60 car overcoming increased gearbox temperatures and both cars undertaking multiple oil flushes that were planned in advance.
Tom Blomqvist set the race’s fastest lap, a 1:35.616, which was three-tenths quicker than the nearest competition, all while exercising increased energy efficiency that saw the MSR Acura go longer on its stints.
“I think the lovely thing is now, none of us need to talk about BoP, it was the same [for everyone],” Salters said. “The aero box was the same. We measure the power on the rear axles and the weight of the car was the same.
“So knowing that, when we grabbed the rulebook two years ago [and said], ‘How do we make the best car?’
“I think if you go and look at the car and the packaging of the engine and stuff and the fact that we made a brand-new hybrid powertrain… We just tried to make the best car.
“You’re looking for such small differences everywhere and we tried to do that within the framework of what we’re allowed to do.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work with some legends, let’s say, and light and low to the ground was pretty good, and in the middle of the car was pretty good, so you’ll see some methodology about our car that’s much more sophisticated when it comes down to weight distribution.
“And it comes down to all the things that make a car, but the car is the sum of a parts, so we sort of concentrated on each bit.
“There’s never a smoking gun in this stuff. There’s all the bits of the car that go to make it fast, but we concentrated on each one to make the best race car that we could, and I guess we did.”
Salters “Amazed” By Overall GTP Reliability in First Race
All but one GTP car finished the Rolex 24, with only two encountering serious hybrid-related issues that were ultimately repaired, something that surprised Salters about the rate of reliability after much concern from all manufacturers in the build-up to the race.
“Amazed I think is the right word,” he said. “These are sophisticated cars and it’s not easy for anybody. Trying to fit a hybrid in a place it doesn’t want to fit and it’s too hot and it vibrates and all the things you do on a racing car…
“I think it’s a testament to each group that they did a really good job, and the suppliers of the hybrid system [that] did a good job.
“It’s not easy. It’s always easy to look and stuff. It’s much harder to do.
“Well done, and I think it’s amazing, the fact that it was a fight all through the race. I did not expect that at all.”