Ricky Taylor believes the launch of the LMDh platform will bring a “new dynamic” to IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races.
The new-for-2023 formula, which will form the basis of the GTP class, is set to rely on overall energy consumption and not just fuel usage due to the addition of the spec hybrid powertrain.
Taylor, who has been spearheading testing and development of the new Acura ARX-06, said he already sees a drastic change in procedures from behind the wheel.
“I think the drivers and teams have to re-learn how they think about a race car,” he told Sportscar365.
“The cars are incredibly complex. Even though it sounds like a spec hybrid and everything, it’s very complex and very technical. There’s a lot of systems in place and everything.
“For us as drivers we’re having to re-learn a lot of stuff. On the teams’ side, it’s a whole different way to work on a race car.
“The interesting thing is how the races go. Next year is going to be a totally different style with not really looking at fuel.
“You’re not counting fuel anymore, you’re counting energy, so how you save energy. How much fuel you actually use is going to be so interesting because you might not need it all.”
IMSA has estimated the hybrid system, developed in conjunction with Bosch, Williams Advanced Engineering and Xtrac, can lead to a 10 percent reduction in fuel usage compared to a current DPi car.
The MGU that will produce up to 50 kilowatts (67 horsepower) that will lead to the fuel savings.
“If it’s done right, I think how we communicate this new platform to fans can be really powerful and really interesting as a new dynamic to what we do,” Taylor said.
“It’s already complex enough but I think for the people who are really into it, the diehard people, it’s going to be a very interesting with everything that’s going to go into the strategy and stuff.”
Taylor turned the Acura LMDh car’s first laps on U.S. soil during a three-day test at Kansas Motor Speedway last month, which provided day-into-night running.
For Ricky, whose most recent trip to the Kansas roval came during the 2013 Grand-Am season while in a Corvette DP, the nearly ten-year span has shown a significant advancement in top-class prototype machinery.
“Going back was really cool,” he said. “To think about the stretch of what’s changed since then… I never would have dreamt that the cars would be at the level where they are now.
“It [felt] like a completely different race track, just the way you do everything was completely new from 2013 when it was the Daytona Prototypes before the diffusers and everything.”
While not being drawn to specifics from the recent test, Taylor said that any early mileage with the ORECA-built car will help pay dividends heading into the ARX-06’s race debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“Everything’s productive,” he said. “Whether things go well or don’t go well, everything’s productive because there’s things to learn.
“If things just go flawlessly the whole time, you might hit your first problem in Daytona. The team has been working really hard.
“The thing that I thought was amazing is how quickly the current DPi has aged.
“I was standing here [at Road America] looking at it and I’m like, ‘It already looks old’ because of how beautiful and advanced the new car is.
“It seems like such a simple car now. [The LMDh] is a big, big update.”
— HPD-North American Motorsport (@HondaRacing_HPD) July 29, 2022