TEAM PENSKE MEDIA CONFERENCE
July 11, 2017
We would like to get a couple of opening comments from both of our participants. We'll begin with Art. Art, Acura and Team Penske had a great sports car rivalry in the late 2000s. Can you walk us through the process that brought these organizations back together?
ART ST. CYR: Yeah, sure. I don't know how much detail I should go into on this one, but really this is something that started in our kind of challenging competitive timing when we were racing with our original ARX cars back in 2007 and 2008. Actually in 2008 we lost to Team Penske by one point during that time. So during this iteration of our Acura Motorsports programs, this has really been a three‑step revival of Acura Motorsports and its alignment with Acura's Precision Crafted Performance direction.
It really started with the TLX GT car two years ago. With the Acura NSX GT3 this year and the DPi program that we're announcing today, obviously it's something that started really when the DPi formula was released, we started talking about how we can introduce this vehicle and how this can be part of Acura's Precision Crafted Performance message to align‑‑ have Acura Motorsports really be the capital P in the performance, and the fact that Roger Penske is one of our largest Acura dealers really had some really good synergy to really make this relationship work between the two of us, and we're happy to announce that it starts today.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Art. Tim, we will follow up with you. Can you talk about why it was important for Team Penske to get back into sports car racing and why Acura is the best step for this program?
TIM CINDRIC: Yeah, on behalf of Roger and everybody at Team Penske we certainly appreciate the confidence that Acura and HPD have in our organization going forward because sports car racing is really where our heritage began within the whole Penske Racing environment, and it's something that we enjoy competing in. Obviously we haven't been involved since 2009, and as Art said, when the DPi formula was announced, it looked like something that would, in our opinion, revive the prototype racing formula here in the U.S., and at that point, as Art mentioned, it was really a natural fit to really try and understand what manufacturers are going to be involved in the future, and it's something that really from day one we were interested in, and here we are finally being able to announce that it's really going to happen.
Yeah, excited to be involved, and it's a good format for us, and I think the future will be competitive, but it'll be a good challenge for us, as well.
Q. Art, a couple of quick questions for you. One of the things that we have been hoping for is to see a DPi manufacturer enter the series with a strong interest in not just racing the cars themselves but making them available to customer teams. I don't know if that would be a choice for 2018, but could you see making the ARX‑05s available at some point in the future? And also, can you offer a timeline on when full‑time and part‑time drivers might be solidified and announced?
ART ST. CYR: Okay. As far as customer programs, so I think it's a little bit premature to be talking about that type of activity right now. We are approaching this DPi program as a factory program for Acura Motorsports, and we're really looking forward to our rejoining forces with Team Penske and their rich experience in putting two very competitive cars on the road, and look forward to overall race wins with that format. So at this point we're really not talking about customer programs.
I think once the program gets started and gets moving, we can start having those conversations, but right now, like I said, we're really focusing on putting a winning product out on the track.
Now, as far as‑‑ I think your second question involved drivers.
Q. Yeah, just if you had a timeline on when that news might be able.
ART ST. CYR: Well, that's something that with Tim Cindric and Team Penske that we're going to be working on that, the driver lineup, but right now no drivers have been signed. Obviously we've had some communication, some discussions on our short list, but we'll be announcing drivers sometime in the future.
Q. Do you have a general timeline of when testing might commence with the 05?
TIM CINDRIC: Yeah, the initial test will actually occur at the end of this month over in Europe at Paul Ricard. The initial testing and so forth will occur here shortly, and then the car will be shipped across the U.S., and then hopefully we'll be on the track before the end of August.
Q. What is the dynamic like when you work with one manufacturer and one series and then compete against that same manufacturer in a different series? I know Team Penske has that with Ford in NASCAR competing against Chevrolet, which they are in IndyCar. Now they're Chevy in IndyCar, and now they're going to run for Honda in sports cars. How does all that dynamic work so that sometimes secrets don't get out that maybe the manufacturer or team doesn't want?
TIM CINDRIC: For us it's kind of old hat, honestly. As you said, it's something that our team and our facility are designed around being able to accommodate those things. Obviously the intellectual property between all the various manufacturers is something that we have to be very mindful of, and we set up internal safeguards on that front, and I had the same question really from Edsel Ford when we signed up the Ford group in our latest NASCAR negotiations, and I think you look at those things and you look at what the risk really might be, and at the end of the day, most of the technology that's utilized in these different motorsports forums is quite different, and I think that as you know, the most important thing is really your reputation in this business, and you know, I think that we make sure that we have the right boundaries up from an IP perspective.
At the same time, as Art mentioned, we're not only selling Acura cars on the street, we're selling quite a few other brands of cars, as well, and we have those same, I guess, discussions in the real world as we do in the racing world.
Q. And Art, if you could weigh in on that question, please.
ART ST. CYR: Yeah, no problem. As Tim said, the formats are quite a bit different between the series that we compete in. The prototype, the DPi prototype car is really based on a mass production engine that's the same engine that's in the TLX, the RDX, the MDX that's on the road, as opposed to the IndyCar engine, which is a bespoke engine. So the technology that we do, the people that are building those engines are different, so from our side I think it's a little bit easier to try to keep those technologies and the IP separated between those kind of disparate type formulas that we have. We've done it for a while when we were racing as Honda Performance Development in the sports car world with a similar version of that engine, that we have no problems keeping things separate between the different series.
Q. For Art and Tim both, you guys saw what the competition level was like when it was the P1 and P2 period when you guys had the Acura previous generation and Tim, with your Porsche program. What does it say about IMSA now that you have the commitment and are coming back into the top class and it's not a split‑class system like it was back in those few years?
TIM CINDRIC: Yeah, I think back then, really the interest that we had as Penske in getting involved wasn't as much the P2 class, although it was structured such that Porsche was working toward a customer program at the time, which they did end up doing there. But what we were interested in was competing for the overall wins, and we were convinced that we had a chance to race against Audi for those overall wins, and that was really before Acura decided to get in the series.
And then once Acura got in the series, because at the time in P2 I think we were just racing against a Zytek car in a very almost privateer setting, and we were fortunate enough to be able to race against the Audis in certain tracks, and I think that made it fun for everybody to try and understand when the underdog could actually compete.
But then once Acura got in the series itself, as Art said, it was very competitive, especially in the second year, and unfortunately that type of racing or that‑‑ I guess that class kind of fell apart. But for us, what we see is we already see that there's three other manufacturers in, and then the DPi still allows the privateer teams if you will to compete with their P2 cars in maybe a WEC type forum as you know.
I think there's a lot of competition out there as you see. I'm really surprised that there's only been one manufacturer at this point winning races, but I think you'll see that continue to change over time as the other teams catch up because I think the Cadillac guys had a bit of a head start, and even for us, it's not a slam dunk that we're going to be winning races right in the beginning, as well, because we will start this thing a year behind.
ART ST. CYR: And from our side, that's one of the beauty things of working with Team Penske is that we have a very kind of uniform sense of purpose, and that is to win overall races. So back when we were racing‑‑ even when we were racing just in P2, we had a P2 car that actually‑‑ I think we had the only P2 car that ever won an overall victory, so there is a‑‑ it's always about winning the race, and when we were in P2, we were about winning the P2. When we're in P1 we're about winning everything that we had, so with our Muscle Milk days with the Pickett guys, it was all about how can we get in front and how can we stay in front.
TIM CINDRIC: We won eight of those things overall, Art; come on.
Q. Art, does the investment in this program impact any of your other programs like the program you have with Shank or your IndyCar stuff, or I don't know if you were exploring any NASCAR stuff as they keep trying to find additional manufacturers?
ART ST. CYR: Well, right now the investment in this is separate, so the simple answer to your question is that it does not impact any of the other programs that we have. So each of those programs are viewed as‑‑ on their individual merits. So this is the next step in this generation of Acura Motorsports going for the top‑class victories, so this will not affect any of the other racing that we have.
Q. And for Tim, I know you're not talking much about drivers, but would you like to see Austin in one of these cars, or do you like the NASCAR path he's taking?
TIM CINDRIC: I'd just like to see Austin, as he does‑‑ as he told me the other day, where was he when he was racing at the Glen actually two weeks ago or whenever that was, a six‑hour race, they had him on social media program, and evidently somebody asked him if he enjoyed driving the truck better or the Lexus sports car, and he said‑‑ he goes, you know, anything with my name on it is a good thing to drive. I'm in that camp with him, that, hey, whatever has a future for him and whatever he's happy with.
But yeah, it would be an honor to see him make it to that level at some point, but I think he's got to take the steps to get there.
Q. It's a bit of an extension of the first question on the programs, and it's whether or not you could give out what the future is for the NSX GT3 program.
ART ST. CYR: Your question was breaking up a little bit, but I believe the question was about the future of our NSX GT3 program?
ART ST. CYR: Well, we'll have some announcements about that here in the near future, and I don't really want to change the subject of the purpose of this one here, to really talk about the DPi program that we have. But if you stay tuned, we will have some more announcements on the NSX program coming up shortly.
Q. Is there any kind of exclusivity deal on the DPi with Honda with Oreca? Are they prevented from actually‑‑
ART ST. CYR: I'm sorry, I didn't get the rest of that question.
TIM CINDRIC: Art, he was asking if there was an exclusivity between Acura and Oreca relative to Oreca building cars for other manufacturers.
ART ST. CYR: They already build other cars for manufactures‑‑ well, I guess not for manufacturers. I actually don't knowif there's ‑‑ right now it's not negotiated as such.
Q. Art, who's behind the development of the body work? Are you able to divulge any details about that? Obviously you had some relationship with Worth Research in the past. Are they involved in any extent, and how much development has the engine undergone since last year's prototype version that you ran in the WeatherTech championship?
ART ST. CYR: For both of those questions, all of the work has been done here in house at HPD, so with our in‑house aerodynamicists, our in‑house chassis group has been working with making those. So that is a slight change, that we've done, that this has been done inside.
As far as the engine is concerned, there have been some changes to this one. This is an Acura exclusive engine that we are putting in this car, so without talking about a lot of the details of that, there are some new fuel systems, the crank is different, so there's a few fairly significant changes to the engine versus what we were racing before as a customer program.
Q. Tim, I know there's been some discussion of potentially you debuting a car at Petit LeMans this year, potentially in the Gibson powered LMP2 spec. Has that been completely ruled out at this point, or is that something you're still evaluating?
TIM CINDRIC: Well, I think it's something, as I mentioned before, we'll continue to look at. It would be great if we could do that just from a preparation standpoint, but until we really know what this program entails in terms of testing and what the status of this is out of the box, I think it's just something that we've put on the side. But we wouldn't rule it out, to answer to your question. But we're certainly a long way from confirming that or knowing that that would happen.
THE MODERATOR: Well, we appreciate everybody participating. We will have a transcript available later this afternoon.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports