Acura has become the third auto manufacturer to confirm its participation in IMSA’s new LMDh category.
Acura’s program, set to debut in 2023 when LMDh replaces the current DPi formula, follows LMDh announcements from Audi and Porsche, and will continue to be overseen by Honda Performance Development.
“Acura Motorsports today confirmed it will continue to compete in the top category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2023 under the new Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh) format,” the manufacturer declared in a brief release.
In partnership with Team Penske, Acura and HPD won the last two DPi championships, and enters the 2021 season with a pair of new entrants in Meyer Shank Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing. Utilizing the Acura ARX-05 DPi in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Acura and HPD tasked French race car constructor ORECA to build its IMSA prototype featuring a production-based 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine.
RACER understands ORECA is expected to continue working with the brand to create and supply its upcoming LMDh chassis.
With Acura and HPD aligned with ORECA, and Audi/Porsche attached to Canada’s Multimatic, the two remaining constructors approved by IMSA – Italy’s Dallara and France’s Ligier – could receive considerable attention from manufacturers eyeing LMDh. Dallara builds Cadillac’s current DPi-V.R, and while Ligier was hired to create a Nissan-badged DPi by the former Extreme Speed Motorsports team, the constructor has not maintained a presence in DPi since 2020.
At present, three LMDh projects have been confirmed and at least three more are expected to receive approval in the coming weeks and months. It means that one or more constructors of the LMP2-based LMDh cars will support at least two manufacturers. Exclusivity between manufacturers and constructors is prohibited.
Under the LMDh rules, which are similar to what’s found in DPi, manufacturers choose and supply a preferred internal combustion engine, and work with the constructor to develop custom bodywork to differentiate their prototype model from other brands competing in the class. New for LMDh, every model is required to use a spec kinetic energy recovery system that produces 40hp, giving IMSA its first hybrid racing formula starting in 2023.
Working from the joint regulations formed by IMSA, and the French ACO and FIA World Endurance Championship series, the upcoming LMDh cars also will be allowed to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and in the WEC. Once DPi is replaced, the majority of LMDh entries are expected to be found in the WeatherTech Championship.
“All of us at IMSA are so excited about the response to the concept of LMDh and global convergence,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “Given the commitments already announced, and the number of auto manufacturers that continue to study LMDh as a marketing and technology platform, there is a tremendous amount of momentum for the future of our sport. Our loyal fans worldwide are in for a real treat.
“Acura has an outstanding record of success in prototype racing, which I experienced as a race fan from a young age and as a competitor in recent years. On behalf of IMSA, I am proud to continue working with Acura as we work collectively to continue building our sport.”