While testing and development of the new Acura NSX GT3 has begun Stateside, Honda Performance Development is in the process of finalizing its 2017 race program, with the possibility of factory supported efforts in both top North American sports car championships.
HPD VP and COO Steve Eriksen attended last weekend’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen to continue discussions with IMSA, as well as prospective teams that could operate the mid-engined sports car next year in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“One of the reasons I [was at Watkins Glen] was to look at this series and look at teams to see if there’s a good fit there,” Eriksen told Sportscar365.
“Certainly this is the series that’s got Daytona and Sebring, some iconic tracks. We’re hoping to finalize that and make an announcement in the not too distant future.”
While a Pirelli World Challenge program with longtime partner RealTime Racing, which currently runs the HPD-developed Acura TLX-GTs, appears to be a logical choice as well, Eriksen said nothing’s been finalized.
HPD is instead currently focused on putting the car through its paces, with the California-based manufacturer having recently received a pre-homolgated prototype for its U.S.-based development program.
The NSX GT3 turned its first laps in Europe earlier this year in the hands of Honda’s WTCC partner JAS Motorsport, which built the car that’s been designed by HRD in Japan.
Eriksen wouldn’t completely rule out an end-of-year race debut in the U.S., which has been often rumored, but stressed the importance of establishing a strong base first.
“We have to see where the car is at from a competitiveness standpoint,” he said.
“I look at some of the other GT3 examples that maybe didn’t launch as quickly as they planned and I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.
“I want to make sure that we have a good race car before we say when it’s going to race.
“The target as we said at the New York Auto Show is to be racing in 2017 and that’s the focus of our development work, to make sure that we’re ready for 2017.
Eriksen said the current focus is to have the car ready for the FIA’s Balance of Performance test at Ladoux in September, in order for it to receive GT3 homologation for 2017.
“We’ve just got to go through the careful process of making sure what we put out there is the best it can be,” he said.
“If somebody hands you something you really have to dive deep and see what you’ve got.”
With HPD taking over development from JAS, the big question remains on whether there will be a European or international component to the program, something Eriksen wasn’t able to answer from his position.
“The focus is North America which, which is why if you look at the New York Auto Show scheme, it says North American racing,” he said. “That was to very clearly state that this car is racing here.
“The biggest market for the NSX is North America so we wanted to be sure that the place it races is in it’s biggest market.”
While HPD’s 2017 program will be with factory supported teams, there’s been no definite timeline established for customer deliveries.
“I think we’re going to take it one step at a time,” Eriksen said. “GT3 is a customer platform. That’s part of the FIA documentation, you have to supply so many cars and that sort of thing.
“The first step is to find out what kind of car we’ve got and the second step is to race it and show that it’s competitive and hopefully it garners enough interest that people want to run it as their car of choice.
“It’s going to be interesting but with our experience in P2 I think that gives us a customer base.”