Trent Hindman described his first laps in Team Penske’s Acura ARX-05 as “pretty unbelievable” and “damn near took my breath away” following a car swap with Ricky Taylor at Sebring International Raceway.
The two championship-winning IMSA drivers traded machinery in February, with Taylor climbing behind the wheel of the No. 57 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo and Hindman making his prototype debut in the No. 7 Acura DPi, in what was described as an “informal” test.
Hindman hadn’t raced a high-downforce car other than a one-off LMPC outing in the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona since his junior open-wheel career ended in 2012.
Lap times were not disclosed although Taylor admitted that the 24-year-old rising star got up to speed “so fast” in the Acura DPi with limited preparation and only completing roughly 20 laps.
“The whole idea of this was for it to be sort of a blind intro into each other’s worlds,” Hindman explained.
I think we accomplished just that.
“That was the point, to get the raw feel and emotion of driving each other’s cars.”
While having conversed with Taylor and Acura engineers, who provided a driver’s manual of “basic functionality”, the reigning IMSA GT Daytona class champion said he was able to get comfortable nearly right away.
“I was expecting it the ARX-05 to be, in the most basic terms, a complete monster… difficult to drive, lots of power and hard to manage and handle,” Hindman said.
“When you’re seeing these these prototypes fly by you, especially with us being in the GTD category, they’re anywhere from 11 to 14 seconds a lap faster than what we’re doing so you know.
“The really incredible thing I noticed with the ARX-05 was the fact that a guy like me, who is so heavily GT-based for such a large portion of my career now, was able to hop in that car and it made me feel comfortable right away.
“A lot of the functions, in terms of controls, even stuff as simple as how to how to stop, bring the car down to a complete stop and then take off again, hot launch whatever, it’s all exactly the same as what we have in the NSX GT3 Evo.
“To be able to get in a car like that, with a very similar user manual, so to say, and have it be comfortable and one with me relatively quick was something I was totally not expecting.
“I was really blown away by it.
“That goes down to the quality of work and engineering we have behind both our programs at Acura Motorsports and Honda Performance Development.”
Hindman said the biggest difference to his NSX GT3 Evo came from the ARX-05’s braking ability, along with the sheer power and aero in the DPi.
“The biggest thing for me was the weight of the car and the amount of downforce it makes at speed,” he said. “That makes high-speed cornering… really, really unbelievable with what the car is capable of.
“The way it jumps off the corner is just wild. It’s a significantly lighter car than what we’re used to with the GT3.
“That initial like second-third-fourth gear pull that I did the first time that I went to full throttle, it damn near took my breath away.
“There’s something really special about seeing your last name on the side of an Acura Team Penske race car. Just to have that opportunity is really something unbelievable.”
Taylor, who had limited previous GT3 experience with the now-defunct Cadillac ATS-V.R program, said the NSX GT3 Evo exceeded his expectations, noting the capabilities of the car’s ABS system and level of downforce.
“Coming from a prototype you think everything’s going to be happening in slow motion and you’re going to be really fighting the thing just to keep it on the track,” said Taylor.
“Hats off to all of the people that put the work in on the Acura side for all the development. It’s just a great car so it was a blast to get an opportunity.
“Hopefully that wasn’t the [final time] I get to spend in the GT3.”
Taylor Open to Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo
The second-generation driver said he would relish an opportunity to race the NSX GT3 Evo in the future and has been “super jealous” of Acura Team Penske teammate Dane Cameron’s outings with the car in GT World Challenge America powered by AWS and Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli competition.
“Dane’s done a great job over on the NSX side,” Taylor said. “Before getting to drive the Meyer Shank car, in addition to Trent’s input, I also reached out to Dane.
“It was interesting. He had a lot of good input for me before I drove the car.
“For me, as a driver, [you’d like] to be on track as much as possible.
“That’s the great thing about a brand like Acura and HPD in general, they have programs at such a high level all over the world.
“Obviously they have a huge presence in IndyCar and IMSA as well. Whatever they’d like me to do, I’d like to do more races.”