The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, an endurance racing series held in North America, was contested over 11 rounds, including the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, Petit Le Mans (10 hours), among other long races, plus seven shorter races.
With the introduction of regulations common to the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) this season, Acura entered two Acura ARX-06 LMDh machines in the GTP class: Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb Agajanian (MSR), and Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport (WTR).
Acura Wins Third 24 Hours of Daytona in a Row
The 24 Hours of Daytona, the season-opener and longest race in the series, was held at the Daytona International Speedway (Florida, USA) on January 28-29.
The new LMDh prototype car, Acura ARX-06, made its debut in this race. MSR, starting from pole position, led the race until the last 8 hours, while WTR lagged behind, but was able to move up to 2nd position, helped by the timing of the yellow caution. The two Acuras were locked in battle in the final stages of the race, crossing the line in a 1-2 finish for the second time in one of the world's three major endurance races. It was also the second consecutive win for MSR, and the third consecutive victory for Acura. The season was off to a great start.
However, a month later in March, it was discovered that the winning MSR team had rigged the tire pressure data. Although there was no change in the race results, the team was stripped of 200 of the 350 points it had earned, and fell to the bottom of the overall ranking.
Round 2, the 12 Hours of Sebring was held on March 18 at Sebring International Raceway (Florida).
Both WTR and MSR were in the lead at times, and were in contention for the win in the second half, but with less than two hours remaining MSR experienced suspension-related problems. The pit crew worked hard to repair the damage, and with 20 minutes remaining, the team was able to return to the race, but could only salvage a 6th place finish in the GTP class.
WTR fought for the lead until 20 minutes remained, but was involved in a multi-car crash and retired from the race. They were, however, able to complete 315 laps to finish 4th in the class.
Both teams struggled in rounds 3 and 4, but in the subsequent round, the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, MSR moved up to 4th place after the last pit stop and pushed hard as four cars battled for the lead, but with less than 5 minutes remaining, a crash in the GTD class brought out the yellow flag, Tom Bronqvist took the checkered flag in 4th place behind the safety car. However, after post-race inspection, the winning Porsche No. 6 was disqualified, moving MSR up to 3rd place.
WTR, starting third on the grid, suffered loose wheels and brake problems, and retired with 40 minutes remaining.
Acura’s Second 1-2 for the Season
Round 6 was a 2 hour 40 minute race held on July 9 at the Motorsport Park in Canada. Incidents and a late caution made for a bumpy race, but the Acura teams were able to manage their fuel perfectly, with MSR taking the win and WTR coming in second for their first 1-2 finish since the season opener at Daytona.
With six out of nine rounds in the GTP class complete, WTR was third place in the overall ranking, 29 points behind the leader, and MSR was ranked sixth.
In Round 7 there was no GTP class event. In Round 8, Road America, MSR finished second and WTR third, a double podium finish for the second consecutive round. With 328 points earned in this event, WTR moved up to the top of the overall ranking.
Round 10 was held on September 17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the two Acura cars were involved in a crash right after the start, the damage costing time in the pits. WTR and MSR finished fifth and sixth respectively, and although WTR finished second in the overall ranking, only three points separated them with the leader, taking the title battle into the final round, Petit Le Mans.
MSR Wins Third Race
WTR Crashes, Misses the Title
On October 14, the final round, the Petit Le Mans 10-hour endurance race was held at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Early in the race, MSR was involved in contact with several cars and lost time. The team had to pit in for a suspension change, which put them two laps down, but they worked hard to get back on the lead lap by midway point. With just over an hour remaining, they were running in seventh position, but the team's pit strategy and Colin Braun's daring driving helped them move up to second position. After a caution was called, Braun took the lead on the restart and held on for the win, the third for the team this season.
Although WTR were in a position to win the drivers', team, and the championship titles for the first nine of the 10-hour race, contact with the No. 31 Cadillac, a rival in the title contention, caused the No. 10 car driven by Filipe Albuquerque to crash into the barrier at the first turn. The final race of the season ended there, and the team missed out on the title.
In the first season of the LMDh regulations, the Acura ARX-06s showed speed and total balance everywhere, winning three races in its debut season. The new season will begin in January 2024 with the 24 Hours of Daytona, the second year of the new regulations.
Rd.07 No GTP Class Held
Rd.09 No GTP Class Held
|Whelen Engineering Cadillac
|Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06
|Meyer Shank Racing w/Curb-Agajanian
|Porsche Penske Motorsport #6
|Porsche Penske Motorsport #7
|BMW M Team RLL #25