Acura has been making progress on its LMDh program according to Honda Performance Development President David Salters, who said they are well into design studies and are on target for a 2023 debut.
The luxury automaker, which formally announced its LMDh participation in January, has been one of three manufacturers so far committed to the global ACO-IMSA top class platform, alongside Porsche and Audi.
According to Salters, who recently took over as HPD’s new President from Ted Klaus, work has been ongoing with its chassis partner, which has yet to be announced, as well as its in-house Acura design team.
“It’s lots of design studies,” Salters told Sportscar365. “But things have got to get a move on.
“You’re trying to make a good racing car, so you’ve got to understand the elements that go into making a new racing car.
“So design studies are ongoing, but you’ve got to move on shortly and start committing.
“Some of those parts are not a short lead time.”
Salters said understanding elements of the new regulations, such as the hybrid powertrain and new chassis, has added a new dynamic to the development program as well.
“There’s the whole interest and learning for hybrid powertrains, so you need to be thinking about how that interacts and how do you control all that,” he said.
“Because the [hybrid power] control is up to us, effectively, there’s a lot to do.
“They’re brand-new cars. The chassis constructors have got a lot of work on as well.
“As you know, HPD is involved in the engineering. So we do the aerodynamics as well [and] work with Acura styling and then help with the CFD, aero and wind tunnel testing.
“We have our own aerodynamicist who is part of HPD. All that’s being thought about: styling, aero. All that sort of stuff.”
Despite having four years of DPi experience with its championship-winning Acura ARX-05, Salters said entering the LMDh era is almost starting with a clean sheet of paper, particularly when factoring in the expected level of manufacturer involvement.
“We obviously race that type of car here in the States, so that won’t do any harm,” said Salters. “The tracks here are quite different from Europe but it’s going to be fierce competition.
“But that’s what you want, that’s why you go racing. And it’s nice to support the series and watching it build.
“[IMSA’s] being very sensible. They’ve made wise choices and it’s been well-organized, so it’s been a pleasure to be involved in technical working groups and sim working groups. They’re trying to do it sensibly.
“We’re going to be fighting Porsche and Audi. That’s good company. It stands to be — who knows — the next big golden age of sports car racing. I hope so.
“If you can get four or five manufacturers and a dozen cars on the grid, it starts to get quite exciting.”
IMSA Program “Priority One” Prior to Le Mans Commitment
Salters said that its program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the main priority, with involvement at the 24 Hours of Le Mans dependent on a number of factors.
Both Wayne Taylor Racing and Meyer Shank Racing, which are currently on multi-year contracts, have expressed strong ambitions of taking their cars to the French endurance classic.
“Acura is a North American brand so we’re here primarily [with] a key focus on IMSA, LMDh and fighting in the American market,” Salters explained.
“What happens after that is down to what the teams may want to do, what Acura wants to do, what Japan might want to do.
“But I think there could be some good opportunities, so let’s see. That’s a step up. Let’s make sure that we… first thing is to deliver what we’re paid to deliver: make a nice Acura LMDh car and do well in the States.
“That’s priority one. What happens after that, who knows.”