Acura and Penske to Cut Ties After 2020 IMSA Season

By Colin Wood
Jul 21, 2020 | Acura, IMSA, Penske

After three successful years together, Acura Motorsports and Team Penske have come to a "mutual agreement" to end their partnership at the end of this year's IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series.

No further details have been released yet as to what led to this decision, but perhaps the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the automotive world is a likely candidate as a contributing factor.

The Acura Team Penske Team saw early success with the V6-powered Acura ARX-05 at the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio in 2018, and would see further wins throughout the 2019 season with four race wins and 14 podium finishes.

Do you think this is open the door for bigger and better things from Acura and Penske, or is this nothing more than a cost-cutting tactic in response to current events?

Read the full press release below:

Acura Motorsports today announced it has come to a mutual agreement with Team Penske to end its successful partnership at the conclusion of the current IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.            

The championship-winning program originated in 2017 in preparation for Acura's debut in the premier class of IMSA competition at the start of the 2018 season.  Acura Team Penske scored its first Daytona Prototype International (DPi) victory – at the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio – in 2018; and captured three more victories en route to sweeping the Manufacturer, Team and Drivers titles last year.           

"On behalf of everyone at Acura and HPD, we'd like to thank Team Penske for their incredible efforts and impressive results racing the ARX-05," said Ted Klaus, president of Honda Performance Development, the competition arm for Acura Motorsports.  "The success we've achieved together during the first two-plus years of the program makes us even more determined to score more victories, defend our championships, and conclude our partnership on the highest of notes."

In addition to sweeping the major IMSA DPi championships in 2019, the Acura ARX-05 scored four race wins, 14 additional podium finishes and nine poles from 22 races since its debut in 2018 racing against Cadillac, Mazda and Nissan.            

The Acura ARX-05 [Acura Racing eXperimental, generation 5] is the latest in a line of endurance prototypes to be fielded by the company dating back to 1991, just five years after the 1986 launch of the Acura brand.  Together with our partner ORECA, and based on the ORECA 07 chassis, HPD led the design and development of the ARX-05; featuring Acura-specific bodywork and powered by Acura's production-based AR35TT twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine, which shares over 400 mass production components with Acura's road going V6 products  

The Acura ARX-05 has added to a rich legacy of Acura sports car racing campaigns and championships, including the 1991-93 IMSA Camel Lights manufacturer and driver championships; 53 IMSA and American Le Mans Series class or overall race victories; and the 2009 American Le Mans Series manufacturer, driver and team championships in both the LMP1 and LMP2 classes. Racing and competition are cornerstones of Acura's existence, and these on track achievements continue to epitomize Acura's tagline of Precision Crafted Performance

Acura Motorsports also campaigns the Acura NSX GT3 Evo in the IMSA GTD category with defending GTD champion Meyer Shank Racing and the Gradient Racing organizations.

Previously, HPD was affiliated with Team Penske in Championship Auto Racing Teams Competition (CART) in 2000 and 2001.  The partnership resulted in 10 race wins, two drivers' championships (both for Gil de Ferran), and the 2001 CART Manufacturers' Championship.  More recently, during the single-supplier era in NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition, Penske and HPD combined for two Indianapolis 500 victories (Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006 and Helio Castroneves in 2009), plus the drivers' title for Hornish in 2006.

"Roger Penske has long been an important part of the Acura family as one of our great Acura dealers, and it has been a privilege to have him as part of the Acura Motorsports family as well," said Jon Ikeda, Acura vice president and brand officer. "We've also had a very spirited competition with Team Penske during our previous ALMS Acura prototype programs.  We will always be thankful for the contributions made by Team Penske over the three-year course of our DPi program"

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Dave M (Forum Supporter)
Dave M (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
7/21/20 11:02 a.m.

That IMSA field is starting to look pretty's a bit concerning!  Hopefully Honda wants to keep going, just not paying the Penske price.  

nderwater UltimaDork
7/21/20 11:10 a.m.

Sad, but not really surprised.  After a year like 2020, I'd imagine that many (perhaps most?) racing sponsors and corporate partners are having to reevaluate their participation.  The Acura excs have some real successes to show for for their investment already, and not much incentive to keep sinking big dollars into the sport.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/21/20 11:30 a.m.

Something else to possibly consider: Since Mazda's big one-two showing at IMSA's July race, I have received exactly zero contact from the manufacturer announcing that rather impressive feat. 

Chazooo New Reader
7/21/20 12:21 p.m.

In reply to nderwater :  It all might fall back to vintage racing after such a year as 2020...


slowbird SuperDork
7/21/20 1:25 p.m.

I hereby decree that IMSA should bolster the field next year by adding a class for $500 crapcans. laugh The speed differential might be a problem though.

06HHR (Forum Supporter)
06HHR (Forum Supporter) Dork
7/21/20 1:45 p.m.

I know this is farfeched, but lately I can't get this movie out of my head..  

I last saw it back in the 80s i think.  It's not the end of the world, but it's beginning to feel like carmageddon may soon be upon us.  Or, it could be Acura didn't want to foot the bill for Penske's next trip to LeMans 

Streetwiseguy MegaDork
7/21/20 1:50 p.m.

Now that Honda is having some F1 success, they might want to focus the budget a bit.  They must be spending a pretty long dollar between Indycar and F1, and I think either would give more bang for the buck than IMSA.

Or,  Have you seen the new Accord NASCAR cup car?devil

Dave M (Forum Supporter)
Dave M (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
7/21/20 2:04 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

Something else to possibly consider: Since Mazda's big one-two showing at IMSA's July race, I have received exactly zero contact from the manufacturer announcing that rather impressive feat. 

Has Multimatic ever worked with Penske before?  Obviously they worked with CGR on the Ford IMSA/Le Mans program.  I just don't know where the lines between constructor and race team start and stop.

BA5 GRM+ Memberand Reader
7/21/20 2:05 p.m.

I love the ARX cars.  I hope they can continue in some form or another!

Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter)
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/21/20 2:12 p.m.

Not great news, but not the end of the world.  This would just leave Mazda and Caddy in DPI, but don't forget LMP2 is looking better over the last couple of years.

IT can also leave more money in Honda's pockets for either Indycar and/or a LeMans Hyper car program as well.

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