The Acura ARX-06 drove less than five hours before Daytona

The Acura ARX-06 drove less than five hours before Daytona

( – Meyer Shank Racing gave the hybrid Acura ARX-06 an outright win in its first race. It wasn’t just any win, but a victory in the 2023 IMSA season opener, the 24 Hours of Daytona last weekend, that was convincing from the outside.

Der Meyer-Shank-Acura in der Victory Lane 24h Daytona 2023


But the team did not slack off during the race as it appeared from the outside. For one thing, before the 24-hour race, the ARX-06 never lasted more than five hours at a time on a single track. On the other hand, from the sixth hour of the race on Saturday and Sunday, there were serious concerns about the gearbox.

“Our car had a gearbox problem all night. I mean, all night and we couldn’t fix it,” revealed team owner Michael Shank after his team’s second straight Daytona win.

Photo: IMSA 2023: 24h Daytona, race

“So we decided to just keep driving until it blew up. It didn’t explode. We were very lucky because it was pretty bad,” says Shank, referring to temperatures in the “90 degree” range in the command post. For a long time, the four drivers – Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud – were not told anything about their gearbox problems.

“I didn’t notice anything until they said we were losing time in the pits and that there was something wrong with the gearbox,” says Castroneves, for whom it was the third Daytona win in a row. He had won his first in 2021 in the service of Wayne Taylor Racing. Last year, the Brazilian was part of Meyer Shank Racing’s winning line-up, along with Simon Pagenaud and Tom Blomqvist.

Castroneves welcomes the fact that the concern about the gearbox was not passed on to the drivers for a long time during this year’s race: “I never asked because I didn’t want to know the answer and I didn’t want to have anything in my head. when they were driving. What they did was absolutely right. I never felt anything in the car.”

Acura: no long-distance tests on the track, but …

Not only the hot gearbox, but also the rest of the Meyer-Shank-Acura equipment survived the entire 24-hour race distance. David Salters’ remarks make it clear that this was not a common occurrence. Honda’s President of Performance Development (HPD) reveals that the ARX-06 has never been driven for more than five hours at a time before its first race.

Unlike competition from BMW, Cadillac and Porsche, Acura did not conduct a 24-hour or even 36-hour test prior to the Daytona 24h. Instead, luxury brand Honda focused on making the LMDh car as stable on the dyno as possible.

Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud

Acura ARX-06: Fast and – despite concerns – also stable Grow

“When you build a car, you always have to test things,” says Salters and he explains: “I would always go the route of making the car faster first. And yes, we traveled kilometers, but not in one go. I didn’t have the opportunity for a long-distance test.”

“The car ran maybe four or five at a time. I would have to check,” the HPD President said. “But we put a lot of that in place. We ran the hybrid powertrain especially on the dyno. That thing has tens of thousands of miles on it and the car has tens of thousands of miles on it. We don’t have them all at once, but it looks like everything it’s okay.”

A week before the 24-hour race, Tom Blomqvist proved that the Meyer-Shank-Acura is not only strong, but also fast, as he powered through qualifying. And in the race, too, it was the Brit who turned the fastest lap. His lap time of 1:35.616, set in the opening round, was three-tenths of a second faster than the competition’s best lap: Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.912 in the Wayne Taylor Acura.

The HPD boss is surprised by the reliability of LMDh vehicles

Even more impressive than pure speed, however, is reliability. In the run-up to the first game of the LMDh race, all four developers were very nervous. This concern even went so far that the LMP2 teams were already happy with one or the other of these teams even having a chance at overall victory.

In the end it was different. Eight of the nine LMDh cars crossed the finish line. Only one of the two Porsche 963s used by the Penske team failed due to an unprecedented defect during test drives. HPD boss Salters comments on reliability in the GTP class: “Perhaps surprising is the right word. We are talking about highly engineered cars that are not easy for anyone.”

Acura, Cadillac, Porsche, BMW LMDh cars in GTP class for 2023 IMSA season

LMDh cars from Acura, Cadillac, Porsche, BMW in IMSA’s GTP class Grow

“Trying to put a hybrid where it doesn’t want to fit because it’s too hot and there’s vibration, I think that’s a testament to how well all the teams did their job. The hybrid system suppliers have a good one too. job done.”

“Looking at it from the outside is always easy, but it’s more difficult to execute it,” Salters knows and praises the competition from Cadillac, Porsche and BMW as well as his Acura team, saying: “Well! it’s amazing that all the races were fought, I didn’t even expect that a little.”