INSIGHT: How WTR is unlocking the complete potential of Acura’s DPi
Acura’s former IMSA companions at Workforce Penske made quick work of creating 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 Improvement, the ARX-05, with its chassis constructed and provided 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 automotive’s potential, however Cadillac and its DPi-V.R had been dominant because the Michigan-based model was victorious at 40 p.c of the occasions. One of many lingering points that was spoken of with the ARX-05 that 12 months – and even via 2019 and 2020, when Acura Workforce Penske took command of DPi and received back-to-back titles – was discovered in the back of the machine.
Regardless of being wrapped in high quality rubber from Michelin, the Acuras had a well-recognized story arc come up at too many rounds the place, due partly to the automotive’s pure tendencies and the frequent software of stability of efficiency penalties, the ARX-05s had been vulnerable to carrying out their rear tires earlier than they wanted to pit for gasoline. Race after race, the feedback — typically shared in personal — spoke to the automotive’s blinding preliminary tempo and eventual lack of velocity 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 seek out cures that might make the ARX-05s extra constant performers throughout each stint. And whereas features had been made, near-perfect chassis setups had been typically elusive and the vehicles remained tough to drive.
Even with the aforementioned challenges, and the pair of championships in hand, the search to proceed bettering 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 automotive, 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 growth expertise. 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 automotive between the American-Portuguese combo spoke to how far it’s come this season.
“I believe we did have a fantastic start line originally of the 12 months; there was fairly a bit of knowledge shared from the earlier program,” Taylor advised 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 vehicles. You need to deal with it with respect.
“I additionally know our group labored actually arduous over the low season to find out about this automotive and see the place we may proceed advancing it. They usually’ve really advanced the automotive this 12 months. In actual fact, whenever you have 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 automotive 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 instructional moments with the automotive, further time on the pad has delivered further 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 vehicles up,” Taylor stated. “However the Acura actually desires the setup to be so exactly carried out to get probably the most out of it. And it’s how they set up issues and the way they set the automotive up the place a group of this caliber makes a distinction. I’m not saying that it wasn’t taking place within the earlier Acura program, however I’m saying that there could also be a purpose why we’re in a position to choose up working with a brand new automotive to us, and run it at such a excessive degree.”
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 automotive 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 largest factor that we’ve carried out,” Taylor stated. “And I believe Laguna Seca might be instance. Though we had been on pole, it is a monitor that favors the Acura the place it’ll take as a lot downforce as you possibly can placed on it for these few laps in qualifying. However within the race, once we transition to a race setup, the Cadillacs had been proper there with us on final tempo. But it surely 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 automotive, the identical monitor, the identical rivals we’re up towards, however I believe the engineering philosophy behind the Acura modified. I believe we simply took a distinct have a look at the identical issues and took some recent views. We all know now methods to get the last word tempo in qualifying and for your complete stint within the races, and Laguna confirmed to us, or possibly extra to me, how far the automotive 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 automotive they’d by no means seen earlier than, and brought it to the following degree.”
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 shall 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 suitable modifications on a posh prototype.
“We’ve been in a position to take that subsequent step of creating the Acura work over lengthy runs, however it’s a extremely fascinating puzzle,” Taylor stated. “It’s not identical to one change will put the automotive within the window; it’s fascinating 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 taking a look at 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 modifications , which isn’t actually the way you go about making setup modifications with most vehicles I’ve pushed.
“However that’s what the Acura likes, and in order that’s what our group has put a number of vitality into understanding the setup change packages and what combos of modifications go collectively greatest. It’s taken some time. We weren’t there at Daytona, in no way. Even by Detroit, we had 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 may be slightly 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 are able to take what we continue to learn concerning the Acura and possibly flip Lengthy Seaside slightly bit extra our course.”