At the end of last year, the Japanese manufacturer brought the Honda Performance Development (HPD) arm under its global motorsport portfolio, renaming the division as Honda Racing Corporation US.
This opened up the possibility of Honda taking its Acura ARX-06 across the Atlantic and competing at Le Mans, a race in which it has had no presence since 2012.
Acura is the only GTP marque in the IMSA SportsCar Championship that doesn’t simultaneously compete in the World Endurance Championship, with BMW, Cadillac, Lamborghini and Porsche all running concurrent programmes in both series with their respective LMDh contenders.
Acura’s IMSA team Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti has long expressed a desire to compete in the French endurance classic, while the erstwhile HPD arm has also shown interest in proving the capabilities of its ARX-06 outside of North America.
But such a programme requires the blessing of the wider HRC operation and the Honda board, something that hadn’t been forthcoming despite Acura winning last year’s Daytona 24 Hours at its first attempt with an LMDh car.
Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images
#40 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06: Jordan Taylor, Louis Deletraz, Colton Herta, Jenson Button
While Honda is still not ruling out running the ARX-06 under its own brand at Le Mans in the future, it says any such plan is on the back burner as it increases the scope of HRC US.
Already occupied with two major programmes in the form of IndyCar and IMSA, the North American arm of Honda’s motorsport division will now also contribute to the development of F1 engines that will power the Aston Martin team in 2026.
Until the F1 programme is at a stage where they can afford to shift focus to other projects, work will not begin on a potential assault on WEC or its flagship Le Mans race.
Speaking with Motorsport.com Japan at the Tokyo Auto Salon, HRC President Koji Watanabe said there are “no plans at this time” to contest the 24-hour enduro.
He added: “I’m not saying it won’t happen forever, but it’s a matter of priorities.
“First of all, we will continue to run IndyCar with the limited manpower we have. In the US, IMSA is in high demand, and our priority is to win there.
“The F1 business will be added to that, and since a few members of the US team will be involved in the F1 project, we will not consider [a Le Mans entry] until things have settled down there.”
Acura will again be represented by two cars in IMSA’s GTP division this year, with WRTAndretti taking over the running on the second entry that was previously operated by Meyer Shank Racing.