Image176Having presided over Acura's last factory prototype effort in the American Le Mans Series, IMSA president Scott Atherton was beaming with pride at the site of Acura's new ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international.

"I don't know how you put it into words, this is the culmination of a long haul, and I won't say a dream come true because that wouldn't be accurate," he told RACER. "It's more the fulfillment of a long-term goal. I think from the moment Acura made the decision to stop racing at the Prototype level we've been focused – with them – on bringing them back.

"To have the Acura brand now linked with Penske Racing, involved directly with the WeatherTech Championship and IMSA, [is a] fulfillment of a long-held goal. Back in the American Le Mans Series, [Acura] very effectively divided their resources across a number of different top-tier teams – Fernandez Racing, Andretti Green, Gil de Ferran, Highcroft. Here they focused it all under one roof, under Penske Racing.

"As before, they were all about winning, and they to a degree stacked the deck back in the previous example. Here, any time you go racing with a Penske team behind you, they approach that from a take-no-prisoners perspective. I think we understand that coming into the equation, and that's okay. They're going to step into the deep end of the pool, because there's a lot of people that are already there operating in a very similar way, so this just adds to the equation."

In the upcoming arrival of ARX-05 driver Juan Pablo Montoya, and two-time WeatherTech champion Dane Cameron, Atherton knows IMSA will have a mix of star power and native talent to promote.

"What a great combination," he said. "Juan Montoya, the résumé's incredible. Dane has come through the ranks. He's proven himself at every level, in a GT car, now most recently in prototypes. He's a winner. I think there's more than one example where a car that most people would say was not podium-worthy gets manhandled to the front of the grid and the front of the race and the finish line on the podium – that's Dane Cameron. To have him somewhat homegrown product, we can't take sole claim for that, but still, what a great combination."


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