Will he or won’t he do the 24 Hours of Le Mans? No one knows yet, but the Acura ASX-06 LMDh is preparing in France and Europe for the next season of the American IMSA championship that the Japanese brand of the Honda group dominates with the current ASX-05 and which has done less. number of titles and victories in recent years, monopolizing the 2019 and 2020 rankings and winning the last two editions of the 24 Hours of Daytona.
The new machine was presented in static form Last June 3, the first fire of the engine took place on June 30 and it made its first shake-down on July 9 at the Paul Ricard circuit, a 5-minute drive from the headquarters of Oreca, the manufacturer that will supply the chassis to the Japanese company, as well such as for the ASX-05 which runs according to the DPi technical regulations, valid only for IMSA. The new LMDh will instead be valid for the top categories of the American endurance championship and the WEC and the respective GTP and Hypercar denominations. It is precisely this condition that makes the new Japanese model suitable for racing in both championships. And only if participation in IMSA is safe in 2023, it can be invited by the ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest) to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Will all this happen? Acura was the first the manufacturer once followed the new LMDh principle with the first photos of the hidden model a week after the last edition of the French race and shake down that took place at the famous circuit of Provence, where the pre-season tests have taken place. for years WEC, followed by other writings in Magny Cours (near another Oreca office), suggest that Europe is the center of the project. Oreca is the supplier for all the LMP2 teams and, in addition, has supported the Toyota team in the past, handled the 9X8 build for Peugeot, and also maintains the Alpine chassis. . And the fact that the men from Honda Racing Development have crossed the Atlantic Ocean to test their gem for the first time shows how much faith they have in the Corporation’s Exploitation Racing Cars.
And talking about the hidden modelThe work done by the Acura styling center in Los Angeles is incredible, starting with the photography, characterized by the abundance of Ss of various sizes that refer to the S-Type name, the classic sports Acuras. But the most interesting part is the style, especially at the front, where the appropriate lamp shape is extended in the middle of the car, and at the back there are lights like strings, but on the sides for communication. camouflage consists of red areas that are visible of the eye group. All to create a perfect connection with street cars, as Acura has already been doing for years with its racing cars and which seems to be a common theme for all LMDhs such as BMW, Cadillac and Porsche.
The frame is an evolution of the 07 used by the DPi, from LMP2 and also from the Alpine A480 that runs for a while in the Hypercar category, but obviously modified. The nose looks similar to that of the ASX-05, in fact only the concept of the wing suspended between the two struts is the same. In fact, the side deflectors are different, the lower lip that starts at the bottom is higher and the nose and bonnet are also different. Later, the distance of the concept from the current car is more obvious, especially with the air intake and the vents and the shape of the mudguards, they have decided to be slimmer and the rear one has a shape directed by the air intake and an acute angle. The sides are also completely different, with flaps and diverters that use the flow and surfaces that come together at a sharp angle. The exhaust configuration is also completely different: on the ARX-05 they are laterally while on the new 06 they exit from the rear hood, in the area of the strong flow leading under the rear wing.
This indicates that the engine is different from the current 3.5 V6 signed AR35TT with side turbochargers and derived from the one used in standard Hondas and Acuras. The different position of the centers can indicate that the turbochargers are placed in the middle of the bank while the sound, different and stronger than that of the 05, can indicate a higher engine speed or even a difference in terms of conformation and firing mechanism. . Honda may have chosen a cylinder bank angle of 75 degrees instead of the usual 60, as in the case of the NSX engine or the one used in the Indy car or the 2.8 liter HR28TT also used in LMP2 in recent years. However, all these engines have side turbochargers. Therefore, the heat part of the hybrid system still remains to be discovered which, as it is known, has a total power of 500 kW (680 hp) and uses a common electric part consisting of a Bosch motor and inverter, Xtrac transmission and clutch coupling . and Williams Advanced Engineering batteries.
Driving the new ARX-06 – which stands for Acura Racing eExperimental generation 6 – during the test were Matt McMurry, HPD machine engineer and test driver according to his past life as a driver, and Ricky Taylor, currently second in the IMSA championship which he won once two, as often. he made the 24 Hours of Daytona his own and ran 8 editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The British and American race drivers with Wayne Taylor Racing while the other team, which will have the second car, will be Meyer Shank Racing whose mechanics have nevertheless participated in the tests. The next steps include further testing at the track and final approval with a view to debuting at the 24 Hours of Daytona (January 26-29, 2023). Participation in the WEC is highly unlikely, at least for 2023, while participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans is technically possible.
It remains to be seen whether, to participate in the world championship, the Japanese manufacturer decides to do it with the Honda brand, if only because the audience will not be only American and in the future there will not be “only” BMW, Cadillac, Lamborghini and Porsche, but also Alpine (which will use the same Oreca chassis ), Ferrari, Peugeot and Toyota without counting Glickenhaus, which is constantly growing, and Vanwall-ByKolles, are still waiting for the green light from the court and the FIA. One thing is for sure: the convergence of regulations between IMSA and WEC is laying the foundations for the richest, most beautiful and hard-fought seasons ever seen in endurance racing.