Acura Motorsports announced today that Michael Shank Racing will join RealTime Racing in fielding the factory-backed Acura NSX GT3 effort next year in North America. MSR will field two Acura NSX GT3 race cars in the GT Daytona class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship starting at the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The announcement brings the total car count for the marque up to four in as a two-car program with long-time Acura stalwarts, RealTime Racing, was also formally announced for the GT class of the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge.
The benefit of the relationship between team owner, Michael Shank, and the Japanese brand was apparent throughout the announcement. After a long-time partnership with Ford Motor Company from 2008 through 2014, Shank began fielding Honda-powered Ligier LMP2 machinery, capturing WeatherTech Championship race wins and a trip to Le Mans this year. The lightweight, multi-material chassis and twin-turbocharged V–6 engine used in the construction of the road car are both built and assembled at Honda’s Performance Manufacturing Center, just 63-miles away from the MSR shop in Ohio.
MSR hopes to build on the long-time success had by RealTime Racing with Acura. RealTime team owner, Peter Cunningham, has a storied history of success with the brand, including 14 World Challenge wins and the 1997 Championship.
“After personally being involved with the initial track testing and racing of the first generation Acura NSX 26 years ago, it is a great honor for my team and I to have this opportunity with the NSX GT3 program,“ he said. ”The new generation NSX is an incredible machine, and will be a great platform for RealTime and Acura to contend for the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge title.”
Drivers were not announced, but it’s expected to see a couple of familiar faces in the cockpit. The full driver lineup will be revealed in the coming months. Currently, Ryan Eversley and Spencer Pumpelly pilot the RealTime Racing Acura TLX GT3 machines with Cunningham helping in the development of the new car. While FIA GT3 homologation testing is scheduled for later this year, Peter Kox is the current test driver working with Cunningham. Long-time MSR driver, John Pew, will no longer race with the team after this season.
Acura’s announcement to join IMSA’s GTD class adds to the already booming excitement surrounding endurance racing. Alongside Porsche, Audi, Lamborghini, Ferrari, BMW and Lexus Acura is the seventh confirmed manufacture set to compete in the premier North American endurance racing series next year, with another one to two other marques looking at enter the series.
With the growing GT fields in both the Pirelli World Challenge and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, there is plenty to look forward to in the coming months. As previously written by Katie Mech, fans of sports car racing have much to look forward to and enough off-season testing and development to keep them satisfied through the upcoming off season.
Featured Image: Honda