Acura LMDh becomes third manufacturer to commit to IMSA’s rebranded top division
Acura Motorsports announced it will join Porsche and Audi in developing a car to compete in the newly rebranded LMDh category for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series.
IMSA’s top division will rebrand the Daytona Prototype International (DPi) class as Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh), which will allow the car to compete in both IMSA and the 24 Hours of LeMans.
The FIA World Endurance Championship’s top division will be known as Hypercar. Currently, the LMP2 and GTLM classes of IMSA can run at Le Mans, but its premier prototype division has not been eligible for the world’s biggest sports car event.
Earlier this year, Porsche announced they will also develop a prototype for this series, which signals a return to IMSA after their departure at the end of 2020.
After Acura and Team Penske announced they would no longer compete together, IMSA president John Doonan expressed confidence that the manufacturer would continue with their involvement in the series.
“They are looking at opportunities to have their Acura DPi in additional families in the future,” Doonan said at the time. “I think there’s an opportunity for them to have multiple teams. That’s ultimately Acura’s news and any teams they partner with to share, but it’s my understanding they plan to be around DPi for many years to come.”
On Tuesday, he was proven correct when the manufacturer released the following brief statement: “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.”
Further information about Acura’s plans for the LMDh class will come later in the year.
“All of us at IMSA are so excited about the response to the concept of LMDh and global convergence,” said IMSA President John Doonan in a release. “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 won driver, team and manufacturer titles in the last two seasons in the Daytona Prototype International (DPi) class.
The brand has participated in WeatherTech Championship GTD competition since 2017, winning seven races. Meyer Shank Racing delivered those victories, along with the 2019 driver and team titles for drivers Mario Farnbacher and Trent Hindman.
Acura begins the 2021 season with two teams, Meyer Shank Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing will each field one car.
The LMDh prototype will be developed jointly by IMSA and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO). It will be a cost-capped car with the same spine as the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) car. The LMDh chassis will be built by an approved constructor, but each manufacturer will be able to make it unique with its own branded engine and bodywork.