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No plans yet for “complicated” customer Acura GTP IMSA cars

Honda’s American motorsports boss David Salters says there are no plans to sell its Acura ARX-06 to customer teams, as it is “too complicated” to operate right now.

#10: Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06, Acura ARX-06, GTP: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, #60: Meyer Shank Racing W/Curb-Agajanian, Acura ARX-06, GTP: Colin Braun, Tom Blomqvist

Acura currently fields two works teams in the IMSA SportsCar Championship – Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport and Meyer Shank Racing – and they benefit from having factory Honda Performance Development engineers embedded in their single-car programs. 

The GTP class cars feature a common electrical hybrid system that has proved problematic to incorporate due to open software rules, and these have led to many malfunctions that require resetting and system failures.

Although he hasn’t ruled out the LMDh car being sold to customers in the longer term, Salters said there won’t be any of the Daytona 24 Hours-winning machines in private hands any time soon – unlike Porsche, which begins its 963 customer team operations with JDC-Miller MotorSports this weekend at Laguna Seca. 

“Right now, in my opinion, this is a works-level car,” said Salters of the ARX-06. “In the future, it could possibly transition to customer stuff, but I personally think that’s some years away. And we need to keep evaluating that. That said, there are some very good so-called customer teams.” 

He then quipped: “Even we’ve struggled to run this car! So, giving it to a customer would be a whole world of pain, so at the moment no. It could change in the future, but right now we’ve got to make sure we do a good job and do our best job for Acura.” 

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

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

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

That also means there’s even less chance of seeing the car race in the World Endurance Championship, including the Le Mans 24 Hours, as Acura’s remit within Honda is wholly American – although Salters has previously said that the car is “quite ready” for the challenge of the Circuit de la Sarthe. 

“At the moment we have works teams, and we want that involvement,” added Salters. “At some point there may be a business case for customers too, but my humble opinion is that it’s too complicated at the moment. 

“If we were to do customer stuff with this car, I’d say it’s a while off. We’re just getting to grips with this thing and we enjoy the business of working with our teams to help run the car. 

“We’re embedded with our teams, we want to be part of the fun – or pain! – as we go along.” 

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When asked by Autosport whether Acura would consider doubling up its entries with its current teams, or follow Michael Andretti’s suggestion at Daytona that one of WTR’s objectives is to “have a WEC team running in the next few years”, Salters replied: “To be blunt, our discussions with them are our discussions. 

“The business side, and how we deal with it, that’s for us.”

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