Referring to "one of the most significant manufacturer announcements in the history of the American Le Mans Series", the ALMS released preliminary details of a very significant project yesterday - 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.
The engines will be installed in at least two different prototypes, the company having already purchased a Lola B05/40 and a Courage LC75. "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."
Honda Performance 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 in 1993. "When 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 realised. I think we will see Acura being actively involved in all aspects of the American Le Mans Series, on and off the track."