Acura Motorsports is expected to return in 2021 with a different look to its championship-winning IMSA DPi program.
Launched under a three-year agreement in 2018 with Team Penske, the brand’s ARX-05 prototypes have been a steady challenger for overall wins in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, claiming the Drivers’, Teams’, and Manufacturers’ titles for Acura in 2019. Persistent rumors of a desired change in service providers at the completion of the contract, however, have followed the two-car program.
Asked earlier this month about continuing with the Japanese brand in IMSA, Penske said “You would need to ask them; any decision on the future belongs with Acura.” Representatives from Honda Performance Development and Team Penske were unavailable for comment.
RACER has learned a new contract is not expected to be offered to Team Penske, and if the plans making the rounds come to fruition, the ARX-05 effort facilitated by HPD would revert to a system last seen in the American Le Mans Series where multiple teams were engaged to run single entries.
Significant interest has been raised within the IMSA paddock, among teams and drivers alike, since the anticipated split between Acura and Team Penske gained momentum in recent months. Three races into the abbreviated WeatherTech Championship season, Acura Team Penske’s title defense has been plagued with reliability problems and misfortune.
Defending champions Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya currently hold sixth in the Drivers’ standings and the sister entry for Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves is eighth. Acura sits third in the Manufacturers’ championship.
Interest expressed by former Team Penske partner Porsche has led to ongoing speculation of a new alliance between the long-established parties when IMSA’s new LMDh rules arrive in 2022. Penske’s team has been linked to more than one of the dozen-plus manufacturers taking part in IMSA’s LMDh steering committee meetings.