Acura and Honda Performance Development are “pushing hard” to get the new NSX GT3 Evo homologated as soon as possible according to program manager Lee Niffenegger.
The Japanese manufacturer, which unveiled the upgrade package last weekend at Road Atlanta, has undergone an extensive testing and development program with the mid-engined sports car through the summer months with several of its current North American customer teams, ahead of a full rollout in 2019.
While initially intending to debut the updated car in next month’s Michelin IMSA Encore at Sebring, Niffenegger is now instead hoping for a potential early homologation date to ensure its eligibility across multiple championships.
Several GT3 manufacturers, including Porsche and Audi, were informed by IMSA that their 2019-spec machinery would not be eligible for the Nov. 11 Encore race, as initially hoped for.
“IMSA told us it’s not a homologated car yet and they don’t know what the homologation’s going to be, so they want 2018 cars [at the Encore],” Niffenegger told Sportscar365.
“We’re pushing hard to try and get the homologation date as early as possible.”
With SRO’s Balance of Performance test not occurring until March, it will again prohibit any manufacturer to run new or updated GT3 machinery in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, which could impact several teams’ participation.
The newly formed Gradient Racing, led by ex-CJ Wilson Racing team manager Andris Laivins, is in advanced discussions of a possible full-season IGTC effort with its NSX GT3 next year.
In addition to the possible Gradient effort, Honda is known to be eying a manufacturer entry into the IGTC.
“Typically the FIA doesn’t homologate [new or updated cars] until [the spring], but with the Evo, the fact that it’s not a complete car, there’s some possibility,” Niffenegger said.
“If we can get everything done and through the whole process, it could be earlier. That’s something that we’re working with the FIA on.
“Even if that happens, then the SRO hasn’t done their BoP tests, so Bathurst [with the Evo] is out of the question. But it’s a reasonable and fair approach.”
Independent of the FIA’s homologation, the updated car will make its race debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, as IMSA utilizes its own Balance of Performance system and unlike the SRO, requires teams to utilize Evo kits on eligible cars.
Niffenegger: “Strong Interest” in IMSA
Niffenegger said there’s a high level of interest from North American-based customers in the NSX GT3 Evo and hopes for additional teams in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year.
Meyer Shank Racing is currently the only confirmed Acura GT Daytona class entrant for 2019, having announced last week a new all-female driver lineup with sponsorship from Caterpillar, to be joined by an second MSR full-season entry with a to-be-announced lineup.
“We’d like to expand the amount of cars we have,” Niffenegger said. “Right now there’s four [cars] in North America but we’d like to get it to six or seven, possibly. There’s strong interest.
“We’re trying to build our brand and it’s coming, and I think the Evo is important just to show you’re not standing still while the other manufacturers are moving forward.”