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New York show: Acura NSX GT3 previews Type R

Race bred: Acura’s track-focused NSX GT3 racer could form the basis for a hot road-going NSX Type R.

Less is more as the de-hybridised rear-drive points to the hottest Honda NSX yet

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Honda logo5 Apr 2016

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

HONDA has unveiled a track-focussed version of its upcoming NSX that could point to the much-rumoured hardcore lightweight Type R performance flagship.

Stripped of its electric-hybrid powertrain gear, including the drive shaft to the front wheels, the Acura (Honda’s US luxury sub-brand) NSX GT3 is the company’s FIA GT3 class racecar for next year and beyond.

Revealed at the New York motor show late last month, it immediately set tongues wagging about whether it will spawn a road-going version wearing the famous Type R nameplate.

“Potentially, but we haven’t made nay decision yet,” according to the president of Honda Performance Development Art St. Cyr.

“There are a lot of certification reasons why… and not to mention the GT3’s ground clearance.”

Mr St. Cyr quickly added that the standard hybrid-AWD NSX will meet expectations and then some, suggesting that if a Type R version does materialise it would be some time after the launch of the series at the end of this year.

“We’re extremely confident that our base hybrid technology is right for our performance car,” he said.

The sentiment was echoed by American Honda executive vice president John Mendel, who remains enthusiastic at the prospect of a road-going version of the GT3 racecar.

“I won’t be making news on that today, but I would certainly love to see that happen,” he said.

“The performance aspects of the NSX are incredible. It sounds simple, you say well you just strip out the hybrid system, strip out other stuff, it’s a little more complex than that, but it would certainly be a fun project to work on.

“We will look at how we expand the performance range… I think you will see more performance type derivatives in the future.”

Built where all new-generation NSXs are made in Marysville, Ohio, the GT3 features a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre double overhead cam V6, employing the same block, heads, valvetrain, crankshaft, pistons and dry sump lubrication system as the production mid-engined supercar, but minus the three electric motors.

This means that the racing car will send power to the rear wheels only, via a new six-speed sequential-shift racing transmission, rather than the regular nine-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

No power outputs have been revealed, but of course you can expect the GT3 to blitz the normal NSX’s 427kW total system output (373kW from the V6 alone), which reportedly sees it hit 100km/h from standstill in 2.9 seconds, on the way to a 307km/h top speed.

Developed by Honda’s racing engineering arm in Japan, with testing conducted there and in Europe, the Acura GT3 is undergoing its final FIA GT3 global racing specification shakedown at Honda Performance Development in California.

Honda says it is slated for homologation in the last quarter of this year.

“The NSX was designed as a pinnacle expression of Acura Precision Crafted Performance, and we're looking forward to proving out its ultimate performance capabilities in GT3 racing,” Mr St. Cyr said in a statement.

“We'll be working with the NSX engineering teams in Ohio and Japan to bring our dream of a truly world-class new Acura NSX racecar to fruition.”

Described at the time as a no-compromise track-focussed racer for customers, the first-generation NSX Type R (or NSX-R as it was originally christened) was launched in Japan in 1992.

Among a raft of changes, it included a blueprinted and balanced crankshaft assembly for its 3.0-litre V6, revised gear ratios, modifications to the suspension, a limited slip differential, and a 120kg weight saving thanks to the deletion of unnecessary luxury gear and the fitment of lighter wheels and other components.

A similar upgrade regime underpinned the second official original NSX Type R exactly 10 years later.

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