Acura For The 2007 ALMS
In LMP2 – Lola And-Or Courage Chassis
“one of the most significant manufacturer announcements in
the history of the American Le Mans Series”, the ALMS has
released preliminary details of a very significant project today
– just announced at the New York Auto Show.
The Acura division
of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., will enter the 2007 ALMS with
a “factory prototype program”.
Multiple Acura-powered LMP2 entries are expected
to make their competition debut at the 55th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours
of Sebring, in March next year.
Acura's race program will feature engines designed
and developed by Honda Performance Development, a subsidiary of
American Honda Motor Co., Inc., the technical operations centre
for Honda's high-performance racing engines.
HPD also coordinates
Honda's participation in the IRL IndyCar Series. Its chief engineer
is Yasuhide Sakamoto.
will be installed in at least two different prototypes, the company
having already purchased a Lola B05/40 and a Courage LC75. Only
the Courage was in New York, and it is expected that it will return
to Europe shortly for engine installation work.
chassis take to the grid at Sebring and beyond remains to be seen.
The longer game is likely to include participation at Le Mans, in
LMP1 – which would be highly appreciated by the ACO, which
has made no secret of its desire to see Japanese factories racing
Neither chassis manufacturer has been allowed to
comment publicly on the Acura programme.
2007 should see Acura join Audi, Aston Martin, BMW,
Chevrolet, Ferrari, Lexus, Mazda, Panoz, Porsche and Saleen on the
grid at Sebring.
“The American Le Mans Series has always featured
factory involvement from the most prestigious collection of auto
manufacturers in the world. Today, it is with great pride that we
welcome Acura," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the
American Le Mans Series. "Our platform features world-class
manufacturers showcasing their products in one of the most extreme,
but relevant forms of motorsports – endurance sports car racing.
Acura has done exhaustive research and has confirmed that the American
Le Mans Series is the premium brand of motorsports, and involvement
in the Series is the best way to display its technology and innovation
to our upscale and affluent audience.
"This news is the culmination of many years
of hard work by all involved," he continued. "While there
still are some details to be worked out, Acura's entry into the
American Le Mans Series will have nothing but positive repercussions
in the seasons to come. Acura has made a commitment to us, and we
are committed to seeing that Acura receives the same return on its
investment as our other teams and manufacturers. This is the start
of a wonderful relationship that is only going to grow stronger."
"As Acura marks its 20-year anniversary, I
can't think of a better racing series to showcase our technology
and performance than the American Le Mans Series," said John
Mendel, senior vice president of Honda Automobile Operations. "Our
entry as a full factory team in the American Le Mans Series will
accurately reflect Acura's position as a leader in automotive performance
and technology, and provide us with an arena to compete against
other manufacturers in endurance sports car racing."
Development will manufacture the engine for the Acura prototype
program, and the 3.4-liter, aluminum alloy V8 powerplant will be
the first to be completely designed and developed in-house by HPD.
"We're looking forward with great anticipation
to entering the American Le Mans Series," said Robert Clarke,
president of Honda Performance Development. "In addition to
returning Acura to the international racing stage against other
innovative automotive manufacturers, it allows us to continue to
grow HPD into a world-class performance company."
Testing of the Acura-powered prototypes will begin
this summer. Drivers and teams will be announced in the near future.
Acura has a
sportscar history anyway, with three consecutive IMSA Camel Lights
championships from 1991-93 including a class victory at Sebring
Dr. Don Panoz founded the American Le Mans Series, he wanted to
bring the spirit and cache of Le Mans to North America but also
feature American-made content,” concluded Scott Atherton.
“Thanks to Acura and Honda Performance Development, another
portion of his vision has been realized. I think we will see Acura
being actively involved in all aspects of the American Le Mans Series,
on and off the track."
AutoWeek broke this story earlier this week (with the incorrect
brand name), but a commitment was made here to respect today's announcement