TORRANCE, Calif, (February 4, 2016) – In professional motor racing, if you aren’t moving ahead, you are going backwards. To that end, Honda Performance Development and championship-winning RealTime Racing spent most of the 2015 offseason making big changes in the Acura TLX with the intention of continuing their climb toward the sharp end of the Pirelli World Challenge GT grid in 2016.
Peter Cunningham’s RealTime Racing squad and Honda Performance Development enter a second full season of World Challenge competition with their new-look Acura TLX GTs, seeking to improve on a strong debut campaign by transforming their all-wheel-drive machine into a lighter and more nimble rear-wheel-drive platform.
“The 2016 season brings many technical changes to our TLX GT program to align us more closely with our competitors,” Acura Motorsports Team Leader Lee Niffenegger said. “The RTR and HPD teams have done a fantastic job sorting out the details and rebuilding the cars to get ready. We’ve put together a robust pre-season test plan that should have us ready to attack right from the beginning!”
The change to rear-wheel-drive means that the #42 and #43 Acura TLXs will shed the weight of the front differential and transfer case, and the added fuel economy could reduce the fuel load needed to complete the series’ 50-minute sprint races. The RTR team made its first test run of 2016 with the new configuration in late January in Atlanta, and was encouraged by the results.
“I am quite pleased with our readiness for 2016,” said Cunningham. “Our initial setup with the RWD TLX worked great on the tight and twisty confines of Atlanta MotorSports Park, and I’m eager for the opportunity to wheel this Acura hot rod around the Circuit of the Americas in a couple weeks!”
The duo of seven-time champion driver Cunningham and Ryan Eversley combined to score 18 top-10 finishes in 20 races last year, including the Acura’s first PWC GT class victory, when Eversley won from pole in rainy St. Petersburg. Eversley went on to finish sixth in the GT class standings, and the duo earned eight race contingency awards for its prowess in the 2015 campaign.
But improvements won’t come easily, as the Acura TLX GT will face stiff competition in the growing World Challenge GT class from teams fielding race-proven cars such as the Audi R8 LMS, Bentley Continental, Cadillac ATS-VR, Ferrari 458 Italia, McLaren 650S, Mercedes SLS, Nissan GTR and Porsche 991 GT3R.
The team will open the season March 4-6 with two rounds at the 3.4-mile Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Eversley scored his first PWC GT top-five finish in last year’s event at COTA and already has his sights set on improving that result in 2016.
“I’m really stoked for 2016,” said Eversley. “To see this first test run absolutely smoothly is very encouraging, and I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel of my TLX-GT. I can’t wait for the season to begin at COTA.”
Developed from the 2015 production Acura TLX by HPD and RealTime, the Acura TLX GT features HPD chassis and aerodynamic performance parts approved for Pirelli World Challenge competition. It is powered by a direct-injected, twin-turbocharged V6 engine, developed by HPD from the production TLX.