Honda has launched a global customer racing programme for its NSX GT3, making the car available to teams in the US, Europe and Asia for the 2018 season and beyond.
Speaking at a launch event for the Honda version of the car, Honda Motor Europe’s head of motorsport Robert Watherston said that having proved the NSX’s competitiveness through the Michael Shank Racing programme in IMSA, the time had now come to make it available to customers around the world.
Two teams with prior GT3 experience are in discussion about running cars in 2018, with a Blancpain GT programme described by Watherston as “the logical place to start” in Europe. At least one team is also said to be interested in running the car in the GT300 class of Super GT. The programme will be customer-led, with the decisions as to exactly what races and championships are contested, and what drivers are run, entirely down to the teams.
There’s no confirmation of whether there’ll be a panel of ‘factory’ drivers similar to the system operated by the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes, although Peter Kox was heavily involved in the car’s development. The exact level of factory support is something still to be determined with the teams that end up running the car, Watherston said, also mentioning the potential of some of Honda’s current works touring-car drivers becoming involved.
The car ‘revealed’ at Spa is identical to the Acura NSX from IMSA, save for the Honda badges on the nose and tail. Initial development was undertaken at Honda HQ in Japan, with the brand’s longstanding European motorsport partner JAS of Italy involved from day one. Part-way through the programme, technical leadership passed to Honda Performance Development (HPD) in the US.
Technical and parts support for NSX GT3 customers will be undertaken by HPD in America, JAS in Europe and China and Mugen in Japan. The first car will be ready for delivery in October, with the full initial batch of 12 completed by the end of February in time for the start of the 2018 racing season.
Total production capacity over the projected seven-year life of the car until the next homologation cycle in 2024 is 70 units, although JAS Motorsport’s Stefano Fini expressed hope that demand would exceed their targets.
Fini added that driveability, ergonomics and safety were the key aspects of development, with several features mandatory under forthcoming 2018 and 2019 FIA regulations already incorporated as standard.
Watherston also added there was currently no plan for a GT4 version of the NSX.