Acura Motorsports and Honda Performance Development Today released photos of the NSX GT3 testing at GingerMan Raceway in Southwest Michigan . By themselves, they don’t say much. In a group and in the context of what’s been in the news lately, we can read between the lines a little bit. So let’s do that.
First, what this confirms is that the car exists, and that HPD is testing it for performance and endurance reasons. We have heard that they have been testing at other tracks as well, and this is stated in the release.
The pictures themselves are not pieces of artwork. But the fact that they include wet, dry and night pictures, and the fact that it was at GingerMan (a popular track-day site two hours from Chicago), indicates they were testing primarily for endurance reasons.
Another piece of information is that HPD plans on participating in the FIA GT3 homologation test in France in September. That is the test where the FIA balances cars against existing GT3 cars so that they are competitive with other cars in the class in series that use GT3 homologations. Those include Pirelli World Challenge, IMSA GT Daytona and the Blancpain Endurance and Sprint series.
The other news is that HPD was at Watkins Glen last weekend actively soliciting teams to compete with the NSX GT3 in the USA next season:
Distilling that down, this is what I come up with:
First, HPD thinks that the NSX GT3 is ready for GT3 homologation. They have probably benchmarked it against other popular GT3 cars, particularly the McLaren 650S GT3, which is astoundingly similar in shape and configuration to the NSX GTE and is the leading car in PWC .
So, If HPD is openly talking about sending the car to France for the homologation test, they think it can keep up with something like the 650S GT3. For reference, this car uses a 3.8-liter twin turbo V8 producing about 640 hp in the customer car. Therefore, HPD must be convinced that the NSX 3.5-liter twin turbo V6 ( RWD , no hybridization) is a match for the racing McLaren and that the engine and transmission can reliable produce something like 650 hp. If it were not a match they would not bother with the test because there would be no point in racing it (more on this below).
Where would they get information about the McLaren? Likely they get enough data from the McLarens in PWC to know almost as much about that car as they do about the NSX . At Road America, the Acura trucks were parked right next to the McLaren trucks. There are few secrets when you can spend as much time as you like sitting by the side of a track with a stopwatch (I know, they are more likely reading data off a spreadsheet from the timing strips, but what romance is there in that?).
What HPD does not want to do is come out with a GT3 car that is not ready, as Steve Eriksen mentions in the Sportscar365.com article.
“We have to see where the car is at from a competitiveness standpoint,” he said. “I look at some of the other GT3 examples that maybe didn’t launch as quickly as they planned and I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. I want to make sure that we have a good race car before we say when it’s going to race. The target as we said at the New York Auto Show is to be racing in 2017 and that’s the focus of our development work, to make sure that we’re ready for 2017.”
What car could he be referring to? Perhaps the Lexus RC F GT3. The car was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in 2015, with the idea to race in 2016. The car has yet to race and may never race. Rumor is that there will be a new version for 2017.
Based on what we’ve learned in the last few days, I expect the NSX GT3 to be tested through August at various locations throughout the midwest and then homologated in September in France. It’s possible it could be raced at Petit LeMans as a GTD car, but more likely to debut at the 24 hours of Daytona.
I will go out on a limb here and make the following prediction: There will be two NSXes at Daytona. One fielded by RealTime racing, with the team of Peter Cunningham and Ryan Eversley (and a third driver) fielding the car at Daytona and Sebring. That duo would go on to contest the PWC in their separate NSXes, replacing the present TLX GTs.
The other car at Daytona might be campaigned by Michael Shank Racing, with Oz Negri and John Pew (and a third driver for Daytona and Sebring) for the IMSA GTD season.
Both cars would have factory support, at least for the first year. And HPD would offer the car to customers for the 2018 season.
This is the text of the release that accompanied the photos:
Acura motorsports is on a roll – fresh off a near production NSX winning its North American racing debut at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in the Time Attack 2 class, Acura has released the first official images of the NSX GT3 racecar as it prepares to campaign in North America in 2017. The twin-turbocharged Acura NSX GT3 was photographed with exposed, lightweight, carbon fiber bodywork at GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, MI as part of its continued development at circuits throughout the U.S. The vehicle is slated for homologation as an FIA GT3 class racecar this fall.
“Building on the very solid foundation of the production NSX , we’re making steady progress in our development and looking forward to campaigning the GT3 racecar next year,” said Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development.
The Acura NSX GT3 racecar features custom bodywork and aero components including a large deck wing spoiler, underbody diffuser and enlarged hood vents for efficient engine cooling. The NSX GT3 racecar is powered by a 3.5-liter, 75-degree, twin turbocharged DOHC V-6 engine using the same design specifications as the engine in the production 2017 Acura NSX , including the block, heads, valvetrain, crankshaft, pistons and dry sump lubrication system. The engine is paired with a 6-speed, sequential-shift racing gearbox, delivering power to the rear wheels.
The Acura NSX GT3 is produced by the Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio, the exclusive manufacturing home for the new Acura NSX . Its twin turbocharged V-6 engine is also assembled in Ohio1. Initial development of the NSX GT3 racecar was conducted by the company’s Japan race engineering arm with testing on race circuits in Europe and Japan. Additional development, testing and final homologation to FIA GT3 global racing specifications is currently being undertaken by the company’s North American race engineering group, Honda Performance Development ( HPD ), in Santa Clarita, California.
The Acura NSX GT3 racecar will advance the rich legacy of Acura sports car racing campaigns and championships, including the 1991, 1992 and 1993 IMSA Camel Lights manufacturer and driver championships, and the 2009 American LeMans manufacturer, driver and team championships in both the LMP1 and LMP2 classes. Acura currently campaigns a pair of TLX GT cars with Real Time Racing in the Pirelli World Challenge. On Sunday, June 26, Acura’s Ryan Eversley completed a sweep of the doubleheader race weekend at Road America in the TLX GT.
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Acura is a leading automotive luxury nameplate that delivers Precision Crafted Performance, an original approach to technology and design that creates a new driving experience. On March 27, 2016, Acura celebrated the 30th anniversary of its launch as the first luxury nameplate from a Japanese automaker.
The Acura lineup features five distinctive models – the RLX luxury flagship sedan, the TLX performance luxury sedan, the ILX sport sedan, the 5-passenger RDX luxury crossover SUV , and the seven-passenger Acura MDX , America’s all-time best-selling three-row luxury SUV . This spring, Acura launched its next-generation, electrified NSX supercar as a new and pinnacle expression of Acura Precision Crafted Performance.