ACURA ENTERING AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES IN 2007 New York, NY - Marking one of the most significant manufacturer announcements in the history of the American Le Mans Series, the Acura division of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., today announced...
ACURA ENTERING AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES IN 2007
New York, NY - Marking one of the most significant manufacturer announcements in the history of the American Le Mans Series, the Acura division of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., today announced plans to enter the Series in 2007 with a factory prototype program.
The Acura prototype initiative is the first factory motorsports program for Acura, the luxury brand of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., in its 20-year history. Multiple Acura-powered LMP2 entries will make their competition debut at the 55th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to start the American Le Mans Series season in March of 2007.
Acura's race program will feature engines designed and developed by Honda Performance Development mated with chassis from some of the world's most prestigious manufacturers including Lola from England and Courage of France.
Recognizing the leading-edge technology and manufacturer involvement present in the Series, the Acura-related announcement adds yet another world-class manufacturer into the American Le Mans Series ranks. The Series is the only sports car platform to offer such competitive diversity on the worldwide stage. When the 2007 American Le Mans Series season opens, Acura will stand alongside marques including Audi, Aston Martin, BMW, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Lexus, Mazda, Panoz, Porsche and Saleen on the grid that boasts more than 10 of the world's elite automobile manufacturers competing head-to-head.
"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," Atherton added. "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."
Acura's announcement is the latest in what has been a succession of major announcements regarding manufacturer and team involvement in the American Le Mans Series. What started with the announcements of Porsche's return with a factory-backed prototype and Mazda's return to professional sports car racing has been followed by news of Penske Racing's involvement, BMW's return, new Dyson Racing Lolas, a new factory Lexus effort, the new diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI, the return of Ferrari with its F430GT and a new Radical LMP2; the good news just keeps coming.
"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."
Advanced technology and cutting-edge innovation are the hallmarks of Honda Performance Development, which will manufacture the engine for the Acura prototype program. The 3.4-liter, aluminum alloy V8 powerplant will be the first completely designed and developed in-house by Honda Performance Development, which serves as American Honda's wholly-owned racing subsidiary.
"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 storied history in sports car racing, particularly with the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA). Acura-supported teams won three consecutive Camel Lights championships from 1991-93 including a class victory at Sebring in 1993.
"This is a landmark project in numerous ways, " Atherton continued. "One of the most significant effects of Acura's new racing program is the reintroduction of an American-made engine back into our prototype categories. 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. Thanks to Acura and Honda Performance Development, another portion of his vision has been realized.
"As mentioned, Acura (Honda) has a proven track record of getting involved with racing series on all fronts," Atherton concluded. "They are not simply going to enter some cars and hope for the best. I think we will see Acura being actively involved in all aspects of the American Le Mans Series, on and off the track."
The American Le Mans Series The American Le Mans Series is the premium brand of motorsport in North America, featuring high-tech sports cars from the most prestigious automobile manufacturers in the world. Its unique four classes of competition showcase exotic, open-top prototypes and sophisticated production-based GT cars, all competing on the track at the same time. The American Le Mans Series competes at the premier road racing tracks across North America and at selected temporary street circuits in major urban markets. With a television package that includes five network broadcasts on CBS and five broadcasts on SPEED Channel, plus live broadcasts across Europe, the series delivers a global marketing platform that is unmatched in motorsports. The series, founded in 1999 by Georgia entrepreneur Don Panoz, represents a mirror image to the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world's most famous and authentic automobile race. The American Le Mans Series features elite marques such as Audi, Porsche, BMW, Corvette, Aston Martin, Lexus and Panoz, and premium brands such as Michelin, Pirelli, Jean-Richard Swiss Watches and many others.