Honda Performance Development is close to securing at least one additional customer team that would expand Acura’s presence in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona class, according to NSX GT3 program manager Lee Niffenegger.
Currently supporting the two-car Meyer Shank Racing squad, which leads the GTD championship, Niffenegger told Sportscar365 that the California-based firm has been in dialogue with additional teams for the 2020 season.
It’s understood that one is an established GTD entrant looking to make the switch from its current manufacturer.
“We’re in one very serious discussion right now with somebody,” Niffenegger told Sportscar365.”But we’re having multiple serious discussions.
“One is more serious than the other just because we’re a little more advanced.
“We’re hoping to add two or three more cars next year. We’d really like to get a couple of more cars in IMSA.”
HPD held a test with multiple young drivers and prospective customers at MotorSport Ranch last month, with drivers sampling Gradient Racing’s Acura NSX GT3 Evo that currently competes in Blancpain GT World Challenge America.
Niffenegger said HPD’s “open book policy” with its customers has been paying dividends in World Challenge America, which currently sees its three customer teams share data and resources.
“We’ve had a completely new team, in Racer’s Edge, come into World Challenge [America], who we had no relationship before, and they work together with Gradient,” he said.
“They race each other and those two teams are vying for the Pro-Am championship but we’ve tried to foster this level of [teamwork].
“We’ve had good teams and they’ve been willing to work together in sharing parts, information and other stuff, even though they’re racing each other.
“I know some people won’t believe it but I’m sure we can do it in IMSA [as well].”
Niffenegger said one of the biggest selling points has been the car’s improved drivability with the new-for-2019 Evo kit.
“It’s been more satisfying to see Martin Barkey and Till Bechtolsheimer and Mike Hedlund have success,” he said.
“For us, that’s the sign that we must have sone something right, in that these amateur guys can just get in and be happy and go fast.”
Niffenegger: Consistency Has Put No. 86 MSR Crew in Commanding Points Lead
Consistent results for the No. 86 MSR Acura of Mario Farnbacher and Trent Hindman has put the duo out front in the championship, according to Niffenegger.
While only having one class win this season, but three additional podium finishes, Farnbacher and Hindman hold a 26-point lead over their closest competition heading into next weekend’s Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway.
“To me, the biggest thing has happened this year is the consistency of the 86 and inconsistency of [everyone else].” Niffenegger said
“We literally went through a period of time that everyone that was in second place either DNF’ed or crashed or something bad happened.
“Just consistently getting good results has really helped.
“It’s almost like the [Paul Miller Racing] Lamborghini from last year. They just kept getting good finishes and Katherine [Legge] was chasing them but couldn’t make up any ground because they were so consistent.
“In this case, the 86 has been very consistent and nobody else has.”