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IMSA Daytona 24 Hours

Acura aces hope Daytona 24 1-2 changes Honda's Le Mans outlook

Acura's Tom Blomqvist and Filipe Albuquerque hope the marque's 1-2 in the Daytona 24 Hours could encourage Honda to enter the car in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2024.

#60 Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb Agajanian Acura ARX-06: Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud

The Acura ARX-06, which won on its competition debut in last weekend's IMSA SportsCar Championship, will be confined to North America for 2023 with parent brand Honda yet to give the go-ahead for the car to be raced in the World Endurance Championship.

A spokesperson for Honda in Japan told Autosport late last year that nothing had been decided about a potential WEC or Le Mans entry in 2024, while admitting such a venture was an "option for the future".

Meyer Shank Racing driver Blomqvist believes that the competitiveness shown by the ARX-06 in Daytona could shift the dial for Honda's bosses.

"I think it will give confidence to Honda and the decision-makers to give it a go," Blomqvist, who secured victory alongside Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud, told Autosport.

"I think they were a bit nervous about going there and not being able to fight for victory, but they’ve got to pat themselves on the back because they have built an amazing car, and there’s no reason why we can’t win Le Mans with it."

Wayne Taylor Racing's Albuquerque, who was part of the crew that finished second at Daytona, reiterated his previously-stated desire to see the Acura LMDh race at Le Mans badged as a Honda.

"I hope [the result at Daytona] does influence them," the Portuguese driver said. "If they are not going with such a competitive car, they are just wasting an opportunity to win Le Mans. There’s no other way of putting it.

"They have already spent the money [building the car]. The car was born well, both cars did the full 24 hours with almost no issues at all, and were competitive. The opportunity is there, and then it’s a question of whether you take it or not."

 

In the build-up to the Daytona 24 Hours, Michael Andretti outlined an ambition to take the ARX-06 to the WEC following the news of his Andretti Autosport team joining forces with WTR for 2023.

Asked whether the tie-up could boost the chances of a Honda-backed Le Mans outing, Albuquerque replied: "I think it brings structure to a smaller team like Wayne Taylor Racing, which is a one-car team.

"Andretti brings the means to do a bigger programme, and that’s helpful. I think it also provides a better opportunity for Honda to make it work.

"But at the end of the day, Honda has to decide. It’s above my pay grade!"

MSR team co-owners Michael Shank and Jim Meyer also re-iterated their ambitions to return to Le Mans with the backing of Honda in the wake of their squad's second consecutive Daytona 24 Hours triumph.

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"When they [Honda] say it's time for us to go, that's when we'll go," said Shank. "And we would love to do it, of course. I did it before Jim came into my life in LMP2 [in 2016], but to be able to go over there and go for the overall win is a thing we would love to do."

Meyer added: "When Mike and I got together [in 2018], I said I want to win the Indianapolis 500, I want to win the Rolex 24. I never thought we would win them this quickly, to be honest with you. But once you win them, it gets really hard to get the taste out of your system.

"But Le Mans was the third one on our list, and it is what we want to do."

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