INSIGHT: How WRT is unlocking the complete potential of Acura’s DPi
Acura’s former IMSA companions at Workforce Penske made quick work of growing the brand new ARX-05 DPi because it ready for its 2018 debut within the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Working in live performance with Honda Efficiency Growth, the ARX-05, with its chassis constructed and equipped by ORECA and powered by a twin-turbo V6 engine produced by HPD in Southern California, confirmed immense potential throughout its first season.
A win by Dane Cameron and Helio Castroneves simply 4 races into the 2018 season gave a glimpse of the automobile’s potential, however Cadillac and its DPi-V.R have been dominant because the Michigan-based model was victorious at 40 % of the occasions. One of many lingering points that was spoken of with the ARX-05 that 12 months – and even by way of 2019 and 2020, when Acura Workforce Penske took command of DPi and received back-to-back titles – was discovered behind the machine.
Regardless of being wrapped in high quality rubber from Michelin, the Acuras had a well-known story arc come up at too many rounds the place, due partly to the automobile’s pure tendencies and the frequent utility of stability of efficiency penalties, the ARX-05s have been vulnerable to carrying out their rear tires earlier than they wanted to pit for gas. Race after race, the feedback — typically shared in personal — spoke to the automobile’s blinding preliminary tempo and eventual lack of pace because the tail began to wag the proverbial canine.
It was right here the place Acura Workforce Penske and HPD invested closely in money and time to search out cures that may make the ARX-05s extra constant performers throughout each stint. And whereas features have been made, near-perfect chassis setups have been typically elusive and the automobiles remained difficult to drive.
Even with the aforementioned challenges, and the pair of championships in hand, the search to proceed enhancing the ARX-05s continued as Acura shifted its program from Workforce Penske to Wayne Taylor Racing and Meyer Shank Racing for 2021. Of the 2 single-car groups, WTR has taken the baton from Penske and elevated the ARX-05 to new heights, incomes three wins in its first season with the automobile, together with the Rolex 24 At Daytona, which eluded Acura because it entered DPi.
The one fixed between ATP and WTR has been reigning DPi champion Ricky Taylor, whose famend racecraft is matched by an uncanny set of chassis improvement abilities. Coming off WTR’s newest win final weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca — from pole — within the No. 10 ARX-05 with Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque on the controls, the state of happiness with the automobile between the American-Portuguese combo spoke to how far it’s come this season.
“I believe we did have an ideal start line firstly of the 12 months; there was fairly a bit of knowledge shared from the earlier program,” Taylor informed RACER. “And I believe that a number of it comes from the respect that everyone within the Wayne Taylor Racing group has for what Workforce Penske did with these automobiles. It’s important to deal with it with respect.
“I additionally know our group labored actually laborious over the low season to find out about this automobile and see the place we may proceed advancing it. They usually’ve truly advanced the automobile this 12 months. Actually, whenever you take a look at the duty of the Rolex 24, that was simply proof of the extent of preparation that the group places collectively doing all of the little issues proper. One factor concerning the Acura is, it’s concerning the particulars.”
WTR discovered one factor early on with the ARX-05: By dedicating extra time than normal on the chassis setup pad and chasing absolute perfection with each suspension adjustment, aerodynamic change, and drivetrain tweak, the automobile would reward its drivers with better dealing with consistency. Discovering the optimum chassis setup window has at all times been a correct hunt for the ARX-05’s operators, and within the first of WTR’s academic moments with the automobile, additional time on the pad has delivered additional efficiency on the monitor.
“It’s fractions of millimeters that we’re working in with a number of the changes, and usually, you don’t give the mechanics sufficient credit score for a way finely they set the automobiles up,” Taylor stated. “However the Acura actually needs the setup to be so exactly carried out to get essentially the most out of it. And it’s how they set up issues and the way they set the automobile up the place a group of this caliber makes a distinction. I’m not saying that it wasn’t occurring within the earlier Acura program, however I’m saying that there could also be a cause why we’re in a position to choose up working with a brand new automobile to us, and run it at such a excessive stage.”
Though Taylor wouldn’t be drawn on the precise particulars of the place WTR and HPD have improved the rear of the ARX-05 to alleviate its excessive tire consumption habits, the 32-year-old acknowledged that is the second massive space the place the group has improved the automobile from his three seasons with ATP.
Winners of the final two visits to Laguna Seca with Penske, Taylor says WTR’s victory for Acura on Sunday confirmed the developments they’ve made with the ARX-05 this season.
“It’s the most important factor that we’ve carried out,” Taylor stated. “And I believe Laguna Seca might be an excellent instance. Though we have been on pole, it is a monitor that favors the Acura the place it should take as a lot downforce as you possibly can placed on it for these few laps in qualifying. However within the race, after we transition to a race setup, the Cadillacs have been proper there with us on final tempo. However it was the stint efficiency that made the distinction, which is one thing we by no means noticed when (Acura Workforce Penske) received there in ’19 and ‘20.
“And it’s the identical automobile, the identical monitor, the identical rivals we’re up in opposition to, however I believe the engineering philosophy behind the Acura modified. I believe we simply took a special take a look at the identical issues and took some recent views. We all know now methods to get the final word tempo in qualifying and for the whole stint within the races, and Laguna confirmed to us, or perhaps extra to me, how far the automobile has come since Helio (Castroneves) and I received there final 12 months. It makes you actually happy with all of the engineers and mechanics who’ve taken a automobile they’d by no means seen earlier than, and brought it to the subsequent stage.”
Taylor, Albuquerque, and the WTR group have a good lead within the DPi championship standings as IMSA heads to Lengthy Seaside for the class’s penultimate spherical on September 25. After Lengthy Seaside, the title might be settled on November 13 at Petit Le Mans in Georgia, the place WTR will look to earn its first championship since Taylor and his brother Jordan captured the inaugural DPi crown in 2017.
To take action, their engineering group might want to proceed calling for the fitting adjustments on a posh prototype.
“We’ve been in a position to take that subsequent step of constructing the Acura work over lengthy runs, nevertheless it’s a extremely attention-grabbing puzzle,” Taylor stated. “It’s not identical to one change will put the automobile within the window; it’s attention-grabbing the way it works in packages. It’s like, you possibly can’t simply make a weight distribution change, or you possibly can’t simply make a (differential) change and get it there. It’s how one factor goes with one other, after which there’s one other factor to do on the similar time, so you possibly can find yourself with chunks of adjustments abruptly, which isn’t actually the way you go about making setup adjustments with most automobiles I’ve pushed.
“However that’s what the Acura likes, and in order that’s what our group has put a number of power into understanding the setup change packages and what mixtures of adjustments go collectively finest. It’s taken some time. We weren’t there at Daytona, under no circumstances. Even by Detroit, we have been nonetheless getting up to the mark. However by Watkins Glen, Highway America, and now Laguna, I really feel like we’re actually gaining some momentum.
“Traditionally, Lengthy Seaside has been a Cadillac monitor. However at the back of our heads, we’re questioning if it is likely to be just a little bit totally different this 12 months. It’s Acura’s dwelling race, in order that’s a giant one for us to try to get for them. Hopefully, we will take what we continue learning concerning the Acura and perhaps flip Lengthy Seaside just a little bit extra our path.”