Acura has announced its commitment to the LMDh top-level prototype category with a car that is due to make its race debut in 2023.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi manufacturer issued a brief statement on Tuesday confirming its involvement in the global hybrid prototype formula that has been jointly created by IMSA and the ACO.
Acura’s commitment opens the door for the Honda brand to compete for overall honors at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship, although its statement only mentions IMSA where it has raced in the top category since 2018.
The statement read: “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.”
Last September, then-Honda Performance Development President Ted Klaus told Sportscar365 of the company’s intentions to continue in top-level prototype racing beyond the end of the current DPi structure.
The LMDh formula is due to come online in 2022, although the first full-season entries are expected to arrive at the start of the following year.
German powerhouses Porsche and Audi have also announced plans to enter the discipline in 2023 with intentions of entering cars in global competition.
“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.”
Acura has not confirmed which of the four available LMP2 chassis it will use as a base for its 500 kW (670 hp) hybrid LMDh prototype.
Equally, no information has been given on which team, or teams, will run the Acura LMDh in competition.
Team Penske operated the ORECA-based Acura ARX-05 DPi for three seasons, before Wayne Taylor Racing and Meyer Shank Racing acquired cars to run in this year’s WeatherTech Championship.
Penske won the last two DPi titles with the ARX-05, while Acura claimed a manufacturers’ championship double last year across its prototype and GT Daytona programs.
MSR team owner Michael Shank, who ran Acura GT3 machinery before switching to the brand’s DPi product for 2021, welcomed the confirmation of Acura’s LMDh involvement.
“It’s very exciting news for us as a team,” said Shank.
“We know it’s going to be at a very high level. [We have] been with them for five years now and their commitment is second to none. I look forward to seeing what their package looks like.”