Acura-Penske partnership to end after 2020 IMSA season

Acura has announced that its exclusive partnership with Team Penske to run its DPi programme in the IMSA SportsCar Championship will end after the 2020 season by 'mutual agreement'

Acura-Penske partnership to end after 2020 IMSA season

Legendary IndyCar and NASCAR team Penske struck a three-year deal to field a pair of ORECA-based Acura ARX-05s in IMSA's top class in 2017, with the car making its race debut in the Daytona 24 Hours the following year.

The partnership scored its first victory at Mid-Ohio in 2018 courtesy of Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor, and last year Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron won three more races en route to the Prototype title.

Acura's announcement gives no indication of whether the DPi programme will stop, although its statement made no mention of whether the ARX-05s will race on with another team in 2021.

Ted Klaus, the head of Honda Performance Development, commented: "On behalf of everyone at Acura and HPD, we'd like to thank Team Penske for their incredible efforts and impressive results racing the ARX-05.

"The success we've achieved together during the first two-plus years of the program makes us even more determined to score more victories, defend our championships, and conclude our partnership on the highest of notes."

Acura's announcement comes after a tough start to the coronavirus-disrupted 2020 IMSA season, with neither of the Team Penske-run cars having so far logged a podium finish in the opening three rounds of the campaign.

Montoya and Cameron have posted a best finish of fourth in the two Daytona rounds, the 24 Hours in January and last month's Daytona 240, while Castroneves and Taylor have yet to finish higher than seventh in the eight-car DPi field.

Penske president Tim Cindric said: "We are proud of the efforts that our organizations have put forth together over the last three seasons, but we simply couldn't align on how we should go racing in the future."

He then added: "Sportscar 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."

The Acura project marked Penske's return to sportscar racing for the first time since 2009, when it contested the Grand-Am Series with a Porsche-powered Riley.

That followed a successful spell in the American Le Mans Series with Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 car between 2005 and 2008, yielding outright victory in the 2008 Sebring 12 Hours and three LMP2 class titles.

Porsche has admitted to conducting an evaluation of a return to the prototype ranks of the World Endurance Championship in LMDh when the new rules are due to be introduced in 2022.

The Acura-Penske partnership has yet to yield any wins in IMSA's three marquee events, the Daytona 24 Hours, Sebring 12 Hours and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

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