Marshall Pruett photos
Honda Performance Development and its partners at Wirth Research could have a new P2 chassis to offer customers in November. A final decision on whether to move forward with the project is expected to be made within the next week.
Like the P1 engine and chassis program HPD revealed to RACER at last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, the new P2 coupe, which would be dubbed the ARX-04b, would most likely require a few customer commitments before going into production.
“We haven’t made any formal announcements on the P2 car yet, but we were working on a P1 car, which has been challenging to sell, and one of the outlets for that design is a P2 coupe,” HPD technical director Roger Griffiths told RACER. “Some other manufacturers have announced new P2 coupes for 2015 (OAK and ORECA, in particular), and we realized that if we didn’t offer something new, we could lose ground and customers in the P2 category.
“It requires a significant investment to develop a new prototype, and it’s not something we’re prepared to fund without the knowledge that the car has customers awaiting delivery. We’ve had a number of teams and drivers express an interest in a P2 coupe; for some of them, the gentlemen drivers come to mind, they have insurance requirements where cockpits are required, and if we have more strong interest that comes in, it’s easier to confirm the P2 coupe will go forward.”
With a lineage dating back to the 2006 ORECA LC75 P2 chassis, HPD’s ALMS P2 cars starred in the category beginning in 2007 under the Acura banner before switching to the current HPD ARX moniker in 2010. HPD and Wirth redesigned and replaced almost every facet of the ORECA underpinnings as 2007’s ARX-01 evolved into the most recent ARX-03b package, and with the ACO’s move to require cockpit enclosures on new prototypes, producing an all-new prototype – the brand’s first since 2009’s ARX-02a P1 car – has gained momentum.
Provided the ACO can add a bit more clarity to the intended lifespan for the new P2 rules package, there’s a solid chance we’ll see HPD’s ARX-04b testing later this year.
“If it happens, it would be fully compliant to the new 2014 (P2) rules, which the P1 cars was designed to meet and would take some revising to adapt to P2,” Griffiths continued. “It would also use the current engine, which is proven, and although the chassis rules are confirmed through 2016, we’re hoping any new car designs to the 2014 rules would have a long life. We don’t mind safety updates or body updates, but if we’re building a car to debut in 2015 and then have to build something new for 2017, it’s not a business model that anyone would ask for.
“There’s suggestions the new P1 rules could last as long as 2020, and we’d like to see something similar for the (2014) P2 rules. It helps the manufacturers and the customers who buy cars knowing they’ll get a lot of use from them.”
Tune in for the 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona at the following times:
Saturday, Jan. 25
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6 p.m. on FOX Sports 2 (Same Day)