Despite not having a presence as a chassis constructor for 2017, Honda Performance Development is evaluating options to remain involved in the LMP2 platform, potentially with an increased factory role in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The California-based manufacturer was unable to submit a chassis constructor bid due to a last-minute change in the FIA, ACO and IMSA’s criteria that prevented affiliations with a major automaker, such as Honda.
“We thought we had a good direction set and that changed,” HPD Race Team Leader Allen Miller told Sportscar365. “We’re not walking away from it; we’re trying to figure out our best plan to be involved.
“We’d like to be in U.S. sports car racing, whether that’s GT or prototype, which we’ve spent a lot of years in.”
Miller confirmed they’re actively evaluating the potential of supplying LMP2 engines and bodywork to TUDOR Championship teams for the new-for-2017 set of regulations, although a final decision has yet to be made.
“At this point, it’s favorable enough that we’re looking into it,” he said. “We would then just focus on the U.S. only as a manufacturer. We’re definitely investigating it as an option.”
While currently supporting Michael Shank Racing with its 2.8-liter twin-turbo V6 engine as a customer program, Miller hasn’t ruled out HPD taking on a larger factory or works-supported role, that could be similar to Acura’s previous involvement in the American Le Mans Series.
“That’s what we’re evaluating right now, how far we would have to go to make this work,” he said. “We’d like to go that far [with full manufacturer involvement] but we have to put together the whole plan to see if it would make sense.
“It could be customer only, it could be factory. It’s just not clear right now.”
While a LMP1 program has been ruled out, largely due to costs, a move to the GT ranks with the new Acura NSX is also under evaluation, although it would likely be without the road car’s hybrid powertrain.
The HPD ARX-04b, which hasn’t raced since its debut at Rolex 24 at Daytona, remains an idle project, but could be raced again with updates should there be a strong desire from a customer wanting to pick it up, Miller said.
Development of the all-new Wirth Research-designed LMP2 coupe was to have continued later this year, had HPD been confirmed as a chassis constructor for 2017.