The ARX-06 Features Recognizable Style Elements of the Brand and an All-New 2.4-Liter, V-6 Engine
By Jeff Olson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It will make you look more than once. Its lines speak Acura, its stance at once aggressive and elegant. Speed and grace intertwined.
Acura Motorsports became the latest manufacturer to unveil its design Wednesday for the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class, the top-tier division of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship that will debut in January.
The Acura ARX-06 features bodywork and aerodynamics specific to the Acura brand, from its recognizable nose wing and angular headlamps to its long, sweeping lines.
The look says Acura without speaking a word.
“If you’re a performance brand, you have to go racing. It’s that simple,” said Jon Ikeda, vice president and Acura brand officer. “Both the existing ARX-05 prototype and our production-based NSX GT3 have proven to be race- and championship-winning designs on tracks all across North America.”
The bodywork is fitted to an ORECA LMDh chassis that utilizes a hybrid power unit married to a new twin-turbocharged, 2.4-liter V-6 internal combustion engine (ICE) designed, developed and manufactured by Honda Performance Development, the racing arm for Acura Motorsports in North America.
Acura joins Porsche, Cadillac and BMW as manufacturers that have begun unveiling and testing GTP cars. The new class will begin competing in January at the 61st Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2023 WeatherTech Championship season. Lamborghini will join the GTP class in 2024.
“With the introduction of the new, electrified Acura ARX-06, we look forward to facing off against other premium automotive brands from around the world,” Ikeda said. “And continuing our winning ways.”
A public unveiling of the ARX-06 will take place Friday at The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering, in Carmel, California. The event is a celebration of HPD’s long history of success in motorsports.
“HPD has 30 years of race-winning and championship-winning history,” said David Salters, HPD president and technical director. “Not only in endurance sports car racing, but in developing championship-winning Honda Civic-based racing cars, the powertrain for the Baja Ridgeline race truck, Formula Regional Americas and Formula 4 powertrains with the Type R engine, and of course the Indy 500 and the IndyCar Series.”
It’s also a continuation of achievement by the Acura brand, which currently is battling for the championship of the final year of the WeatherTech Championship’s Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class. Wayne Taylor Racing and Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian, the two Acura-powered teams dueling for the DPi championship, will continue as the marque’s GTP partner teams in 2023.
“We are HPD,” Salters said. “We race, we develop our engineers and technology through racing. We have an amazing and unique racing legacy, both past and present. It’s what we do as Acura’s – and Honda’s – North American racing organization. We are looking forward to the challenge of racing Porsche, BMW and GM in IMSA’s pinnacle GTP championship. We are very cognizant this is a big step for us. We have a lot to learn, but that is why we race.”
The hybrid power unit is based around the all-new Acura AR24e engine. At 2.4 liters, it is the smallest displacement ICE conceived by HPD for endurance racing, yet still meets the performance target of 500 kW (670 horsepower) as measured at the rear axle by torque meters. It features a 90-degree V-angle to reduce its center of gravity and polar moment of inertia.
“We’ve taken the challenge presented by this new rule package from IMSA and developed what we believe is a very competitive solution,” said Pierre Descamps, who led HPD’s powertrain design team for the ARX-06. “We’ve gone in a new direction for HPD in the design of the ICE. It is still a V-6, which of course for Honda is well-known, but we have incorporated several new elements which we believe will make best use of the electric MGU and battery pack.”
Other elements of the ARX-06 include brake-by-wire and a vehicle dynamics control system, developed in-house at HPD. This control system architecture was implemented on a Formula 1-spec ECU hardware platform. ORECA continues as Acura’s partner with its new carbon fiber monocoque chassis.
“Working with the extremely talented ORECA engineers on chassis and aero design and powertrain installation has been a real pleasure,” Salters said. “Both groups have put their heart and soul into this intense project and sophisticated race car.”
The Acura Design Studio in Los Angeles led exterior styling of the Acura ARX-06, in conjunction with HPD and ORECA. HPD aerodynamics engineers and in-house CFD aero engineers worked to help develop the styling and maximize the aerodynamic performance envelope of the ARX-06, while keeping it within the homologation boxes as specified by IMSA.
“The process we used in creating the exterior design for the Acura ARX-06 is exactly the same as how we create a new Acura passenger vehicle,” said Dave Marek, Acura executive creative director.
“The same world-class stylists that lead Acura production car design created initial sketches, then pared those down to several potential designs. Next, we created a scale model, did aero and wind tunnel model testing, and brought HPD and our partner teams in for their feedback,” Marek added. “The design continued to be refined throughout the testing and evaluation process, until we came up with a final treatment that met our performance goals while maintaining all-important Acura styling cues. It’s been an exciting process.”