“We understand and delight in the interest expressed by our fans for individual drivers,” Klaus said. “Generally speaking, the drivers are under contract to their team, and we defer to the team on the driver arrangements. There’s still a lot of work to be done (before Acura’s plans for 2021 are revealed). At the same time, we have to stay focused on racing this season. The (Tuesday) announcement was made out of respect for all of our partners. Now we need some time to consider what is best for 2021 and beyond.”
In a quote offered by Team Penske president Tim Cindric, the upcoming split with Acura was attributed to diverging views, with Cindric stating “we simply couldn’t align on how we should go racing in the future.”
Klaus echoed similar sentiments when asked why a successful partnership was coming to an end on the heels of the championship earned by Acura Team Penske in 2019
“The best way to answer that is when you begin a partnership, it has an estimated life cycle,” he said. “This was envisioned to be the most effective way to earn a championship in three short years — that’s how we envisioned it. We earned it in year two, and now we have to think about the future, and consider the surrounding (economic) environment. In racing you have to give a hundred percent in to produce results. There’s no saving 10% in racing; that’s just wasting the other 90%. I think out of respect for who we are, and who Penske is, if there isn’t that hundred percent commitment to 2021, then we need to reset.
“So, we are hitting the reset button and we are going to figure out a way to go a hundred percent in 2021 and beyond, to earn (results) on the track and to pay down the (Acura) tagline of ‘Precision Crafted Performance.’ This idea that you can just keep doing the same thing, when the rest of the world around you changes, is unfortunately not a reality today.”
HPD’s team and driver plans for the 2021 season will be announced in due course.
“We appreciate that we can’t all at once reveal to the fans everything that we are considering, but the final point would be that I think the future is bright for Acura in competition, and we’re all about competition on the track,” Klaus added.
“Over the years, manufacturer participation on the track has ebbed and flowed, but when we’ve been involved, we’ve always been focused on working with excellent partners, and achieving excellent performance from HPD and Acura Motorsports. Give us some time and we’ll come back with a good plan to continue that legacy of excellence.”
For Team Penske fans, its IMSA future is less clear. With no immediate replacement for the ARX-05 program on the horizon, the North Carolina-based squad is expected to take some time away from the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as it seeks a new manufacturer relationship to replace Acura and HPD.
In another quote from Cindric, participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans was cited as the team’s leading interest once the IMSA contract with Acura is completed.
“Sports car racing has always been a big part of the heritage of Team Penske and we are certainly interested in going to Le Mans one day with the right partner under the right circumstances,” he said.
The fate of Penske’s IMSA crew, across both ARX-05 entries after the November season finale at Sebring, is another unknown.
Penske has made use of its sports car crew members — many who moved to IMSA from IndyCar — to run extra entries in the NTT IndyCar Series since Acura Team Penske debuted in 2018, which would seemingly open the door to expanding its open-wheel operation, if the desire and funding is found.