Acura and Team Penske may have closed out their three-year IMSA racing DPi partnership, but the manufacturer is continuing to race in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The two ARX-05 DPi championship cars have gone to two new teams – one new to Acura, the other rejoining the top tier of American sports prototype competition with their familiar partner.
Meyer Shank Racing (MSR), who won IMSA’s 2019 GTD title with Acura’s NSX, and who race full-time in the open-wheel NTT IndyCar Series, acquired one of Penske’s Acura race cars and have already firmed up their full-time driver squad. Both Dane Cameron, who came to MSR directly from Team Penske and Olivier Pla, whose winning exploits at the 2016 Motul Petit Le Mans race with MSR convinced Shank to re-hire the French ace, are set for full-time action next season.
Meyer Shank Racing has much on their table, including a second Indy car for three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves. Castroneves, who earned his first career driving championship this month driving for Acura Team Penske, will attempt to earn a fourth Indy 500 victory, in the hopes of joining A.J. Foyt Jr., Al Unser and Rick Mears in that elite club. While Castroneves has other plans for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, he could be available for both testing of the ARX-05 and other endurance contests.
To keep up with all this activity, MSR has broken ground on a new 40,000 square foot facility in their hometown of Pataskala, Ohio, a necessary move from their current 16,000 square-foot facility, giving the team a bit of breathing room. “There are two hubs in racing, Charlotte or Indianapolis, but we have been here all of my life,” Shank explained. “I wanted it to work out in a way that we could stay here.”
The second Acura ARX-05 team is Wayne Taylor Racing, who have been enjoying great success racing the Cadillac DPi since it was first introduced. The two-time reigning Rolex 24 at Daytona winners will have the services of returning Ricky Taylor, son of team owner Wayne Taylor, who is IMSA’s 2020 DPi co-champion with Castroneves. The Brazilian joins this team for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Felipe Albuquerque, who has been part of the WTR team earning six victories and 19 podiums, is the second full-time driver, while 2016 Indy 500 champ Alexander Rossi is on-board for the endurance contests with WTR.
The Brownsburg, Ind.-based team, in operation since 2007, has some past history with Acura, as team owner Wayne Taylor competed with the auto maker in the GTP Lights category, helping Acura earn that year’s Manufacturer’s championship. “While Wayne Taylor Racing has been enjoying much success with Cadillac over the past several years, Acura and Honda Performance Development (HPD) have also had considerable success. Our new partnership with Acura and HPD provides us with the long-term stability necessary to properly invest in the program and remain championship contenders for years to come.”
Wayne Taylor Racing finished second in the 2020 season standings to Taylor and Castroneves, failing to secure the title by a single point. They arrived at the season finale, the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring leading by four points, but on-circuit difficulties in this most challenging event on the season calendar resulted in a seventh-place result for the team, who were seven laps in arrears to the race winners, the No. 55 Mazda DPi.
It’s apparent Acura is using its muscle to achieve even more success in IMSA competition, even as Cadillac beefs up its entries by adding Chip Ganassi Racing to its stable. The future of Mazda’s competition in the series hasn’t been firmed up completely, but it is expected to continue for 2021. IMSA begins its season with the annual Roar Before the Rolex 24 which, this year takes place just a week before the twice-around-the-clock midwinter classic, scheduled in 2021 to close out the month of January.