Acura’s New Hybrid Race Car Has a Twin-Turbo, 2.4L V6 That Revs to 10K
It is the smallest-displacement combustion engine built by Honda’s racing division.
Acura revealed Wednesday its new hybrid racing car, the ARX-06 LMDh prototype. It replaces the wildly successful (non-hybrid) ARX-05 that's raced in the IMSA circuit since 2018. It features the usual endurance racer bits; huge rear wing, dramatic bodywork, enclosed cockpit, etc. But most notably, however, it's powered by a tiny, 2.4-liter twin-turbo V6 engine aided by a hybrid unit.
The ARX-06 will debut next January at the 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona, where it will attempt to make it three in a row after Acura took the top step in 2021 and 2022. The new racer sits on an all-new Oreca LMDh chassis, which is one of the four platforms homologated for IMSA per the new regulations. Multimatic, Ligier, and Dallara are the other three.
The power unit—hybrid and ICE components—too, is brand new. The Acura AR24e was developed by Honda Performance Development specifically with the goal of bringing electrification to IMSA, based on the joint rulebook with the FIA's World Endurance Championship. At just 2.4 liters in displacement, it is the "smallest ICE engine conceived by HPD for endurance racing," per the press release. It features a 90-degree V-angle and produces the performance target set by the series of 500 kW of power (approx. 670 hp), helping it rev to 10,000 rpm. Furthermore, the combustion chamber is designed to work on sustainable low-carbon fuel.
The hybrid drivetrain consists of an IMSA-specified electric Bosch Motor Generator Unit (MGU), powered by a battery pack designed by Williams Advanced Engineering. The XTrac six-speed paddle-shifter transmission power the rear wheels only.
And per one of Acura's engineers, it also sounds pretty darn good.
"It is still a V6, which of course for Honda is well-known, but we have incorporated several new elements which we believe will make best use of the electric MGU and battery pack," said Pierre Descamps, who led HPD's powertrain design team for the ARX-06. "Our new engine will rev to the maximum 10,000 rpm set by the rules, so it also makes a wonderful sound!"
Aerodynamics are unique to the ARX-06, and both Oreca and Acura were involved in the design process of the body elements. Teams and drivers had a say so, as well. With the help of virtual reality headsets, drivers were able to make recommendations for side-mirror placement based on their positions in the cockpit. The mirrors were ultimately repositioned much lower, which improved aero efficiency and visibility. Of course, a lot of the specifics have only been tested virtually—or in wind tunnels—as the new race car won't see the tarmac until January.
Acura will continue its successful partnerships with Wayne Taylor Racing and Meyer Shank Racing in 2023. Both teams have won numerous races and championships with the automaker, including a 1-2 finish at the Rolex 24 this year.
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