The NSX GT3 continues to prepare their NSX GT3 for next month’s GT3 BoP test. While all of the testing has been done in-house the teams that will actually run the cars next season has yet to be officially announced. Even if not official, it has been a forgone conclusion since the beginning that Acura’s long time partner Real Time racing would be campaigning the new NSX in PWC. Ever since the official launch of the car Honda/Acura’s in-house racing division, HPD, have stated that the NSX GT3 will also race in IMSA. Specifically in the GT Daytona Class in the Weather Tech Championship. Given no obvious choice like in PWC it was unclear which team would be tasked with running the new car in IMSA. Teams such as Magnus Racing and Stevenson Motorsports were rumored to be in consideration. Racer.com has learned that Michael Shank Racing (MSR) is expected to get the NSX GT3 deal.
MSR has long been a stalwart in North American Sportscar Racing. Running Prototypes in the now defunct Rolex Grand-Am series and more recently in IMSA. His team can boast an overall victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2012. Make no mistake MSR is one of the heavy hitters in North American Sportscar Racing. Probably the only thing holding them back has been their insistence on using a Pro-Am driver lineup. Fortunately such driver limitations will not be an issue for them in GTD as Pro-Am driver lineups are required. Over the past 2 years they have also flown Honda’s flag. Being the only full-time team to do so. So when the NSX GT3’s race program was announced, they vaulted to the top of the potential IMSA list.
MSR’s switch from prototypes to GTD is a double-edged sword. 1, it is great news for the GTD class. Additions like Scott Pruett and MSR into the class only bolsters one of the most competitive classes in motor racing. However, this means yet another Prototype team has left IMSA’s top class in favor of GT machinery. This season Prototype saw the departure of Ganassi Racing in favor of their factory Ford GT program. This left multiple time Prototype champion Scott Pruett without a ride. Fortunately Pruett found a ride with Lexus and will be driving their new RC-F GT3 in 2017. With new regulations on the horizon for 2017 IMSA’s new DPi (Daytona Prototype International) class is starting on shaky ground. Teams like Wayne Taylor Racing, Action Express and Mazda have all but verbally committed to the class next season, but that is at most 5 cars. Time will tell, and many teams are adopting a wait and see approach (Bentley, Nissan, Mercedes AMG). 2017 could be a lean year for Prototypes in IMSA but it is imperative for them to get things correct as a successful 2017 could lead to major growth in 2018.
Prototype’s loss is GTD’s gain. Lexus and Acura will be joining the likes of BMW, Porsche, Ferrari, Audi and Lamborghini. Clearly GTD is booming. You may have noticed I left Viper off that list. Mostly because Dodge has viciously doped the Viper from production. GT racing evolution and rules being what they are has left Ben Keating who has flown the Viper flag for the past few seasons, searching for a new ride. The rumor is he and Mercedes AMG are deep in discussion regarding Keating and Riley Motorsports driving an AMG GT3. Mercedes entrance into the GTD fight would mark the 8th manufacturer in GTD, which should make for some exciting competition for Acura and the NSX GT3.