Honda Performance Development has been utilizing Michelin’s ‘On Track Opportunities’ at IMSA tracks for testing and development of the recently announced Acura NSX GT3 Evo.
Reveled during last weekend’s Motul Petit Le Mans, the mid-engined sports car will feature extensive aero updates, as well as several new mechanical components when the Evo makes its competitive debut early next year.
According to Acura NSX GT3 program manager Lee Niffenegger, an “immense” amount of testing has already been completed, both in the Michelin track days as well as in Europe by JAS Motorsport, in preparation for its rollout to customers globally.
“We’ve actually been using a lot of the Michelin days, a little bit under the radar, but with IMSA and Michelin’s permission,” Niffenegger told Sportscar365.
“That’s the configuration we intend to run. They’ve been very helpful with allowing us to do that.
“There’s been a lot of wind tunnel testing and stuff like that but the main target, it’s not a performance upgrade, it’s a bigger window to suit drivers’ tastes and abilities.”
The NSX GT3 Evo that was on display at Road Atlanta during last weekend’s Motul Petit Le Mans weekend was put into service on Monday, with Katherine Legge handling driving duties of the car, which was again run by Meyer Shank Racing.
A sixth and final Michelin track day is scheduled for Dec. 11 at Daytona.
MSR, which served as Acura’s factory partner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship during the car’s debut year in 2017, has been among the teams involved with development of the GT3 Evo.
“We started pretty early with [Acura] in 2017 with the whole factory deal and we worked hard to build that relationship so that they could have trust so that they could come to us for stuff, not just running the race team, but for development stuff,” team co-owner Mike Shank told Sportscar365.
“It’s important to me that we’re relevant to our manufacturer. I think we’ve done a good job of that on top of having to get results.”
Niffenegger said the testing program has included all of its North American-based teams at one point or another.
“Even the CJ Wilson guys have helped us out with stuff, based on car availability,” he said. “The key is what the customer, the teams, the drivers, what do they want? We’ve tried to get all those pieces.
“A guy like Till Bechtolsheimer, a true gentleman driver, coming into our car, versus Alvaro Parente and Lawson Aschenbach. We’re trying to grab the whole spectrum, since we already had these guys from one end to the other.
“Then, as well, the guys that Honda uses in Europe and our technical partners at JAS. So, ‘We know we need to change this, so let’s take the temperature.
“We did what we think they wanted, is this what you wanted?’ It was all extremely positive.”
Niffenegger said the Evo kit, which also features Honda’s 2019 European-spec NSX turbo and an updated ABS system, will be made available to existing customers later this year at a likely price point between $30-35,000.
As another cost-savings measure, existing bodywork can be retrofitted, which will eliminate the need to purchase all-new spares packages.
Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report