Acura’s new ARX-05 DPi is set to begin testing later this month in Europe, leading up to the car’s race debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona with Team Penske.
Team Penske President Tim Cindric confirmed that the ORECA-built prototype is scheduled to complete a shakedown at Paul Ricard at the end of July, prior to kicking off its extensive North American-based testing program later this summer.
“The initial testing will occur here shortly and the car will be shipped to the U.S. and hopefully we’ll be on the track before the end of August,” Cindric said during a HPD/Team Penske teleconference on Tuesday.
The DPi car, a collaborative effort between Honda Performance Development and the French LMP2 constructor, sees the manufacturer-specific bodywork designed entirely in-house by the California-based firm, according to HPD President Art St. Cyr.
It marks a departure from its previous technical partnership with Wirth Research, which designed and developed all of Acura and HPD’s previous-generation LMP1 and LMP2 cars, as well as the recent IndyCar aero kit.
“All of the work has been done here, in-house at HPD with our in-house aerodynamicists, our in-house chassis group has been working with making those,” St. Cyr said. “That’s a slight changeup.”
St. Cyr said the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine, based on the “J35” family of engines found in many Acura production cars, has been further developed since most recently being used in Prototype competition with Michael Shank Racing and Tequila Patron ESM, which combined to win Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans last year.
“There are some new fuel systems, the crank is different,” he said. “There’s a few significant changes in the engine vs. what we were racing before as a customer program.”
While an end-of-season Petit Le Mans debut with the Acura DPi has been ruled out, Cindric said that efforts to run an Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 car, as revealed by Sportscar365 last week, are still being considered.
Cindric, however, said it would likely depend in the progress of the Acura’s initial testing.
“We’ll continue to look at it,” he said. “It would be great if we could do that, just from a preparation standpoint.
“Until we really know what this program really entails, in terms of testing and what the status of [the car] is out of the box, I think it’s something that we’ve put on the side.
“We wouldn’t rule it out but we’re certainly a long way from confirming that or really knowing that would happen.”
While the car is expected to be formally unveiled next month at the Monterey Car Week, no specific timeline has been determined on the announcement of drivers for the two-car program.
St. Cyr said it’s something currently being discussed between he, Cindric and Roger Penske.
“Right now no drivers have been signed,” he said. “Obviously we’ve had some communication, some discussions on our short list, but we’ll be announcing drivers sometime in the future.”