Three spec racers from Honda-owned automaker will be competing in the hill climb

Over the past five years, Acura has been a staple at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. It’s done quite well for itself there, including last year when it sent three modified NSX supercars, scoring the Time Attack 2 win with a time of 10 minutes and 28 seconds. This year, the Honda-owned automaker will make it six years in a row at Pikes Peak, and once more, it’s bringing with it some heavy-hitting machinery, including a GT3-inspired NSX, a TLX GT racer, and a debuting TLX A-Spec racer.

All three cars will be competing in Pikes Peak, so don’t expect these machines to be run of the mill. Each have been prepared specifically to handle the rigorous hill climb, arriving at the event packing aerodynamic, engine, and suspension upgrades. Pikes Peak isn’t your typical race track after all, so you can be sure that all three cars are getting ready to stake their names in the race. Beyond having these racers, Acura’s involvement at Pikes Peak also extends to pace car duties since the company is the Official Pace Car sponsor at this year’s race. On top of that, Acura is also participating in a handful of pre-race activities to showcase all of the four-wheeled racing hardware it’s bringing to the event and hosting an MDX Rookie Orientation in the lead-up to the race. It’s going to be a busy weekend for Acura when the flags start flying on June 23.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Acura’s all geared up to stake its climb at Pikes Peak

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is always a fun place to watch competitive racing

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is always a fun place to watch competitive racing, partly because it doesn’t have the traditional set-up of competitive racing. But it’s been around for 95 years, so that longevity counts for something. This year, we’re expecting a heavy dose of exciting racing and Acura is going to be in the thick of things with three race cars that have all been prepared to do some serious damage at the event.

The first two of these racers are based on the TLX, including the TLX GT, which will be making its Pikes Peak debut. Despite its neophyte status, the TLX GT will be piloted by long-time Acura race car driver Peter Cunningham where it will compete in the event’s Open Class. Not only is the car getting a driver that knows his way behind the wheel of a race car. it also received some potent artillery, none more important than a bi-turbo V-6 engine that’s proven its worth in the Pirelli World Challenge series. The car itself has also been heavily tuned to handle the rigors of Pikes Peak, right down to the suspension tuning, the aero upgrades, and modified gearing. It may be short on experience in a course like Pikes Peak, but don’t sleep on what it’s capable off when the flags are waved.

Acura's Preparing For a Full-On Onslaught at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb High Resolution Exterior
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note: photo of the Acura TLX GT

Hard to say that Acura didn’t prepare the TLX A-Spec to be all that it can be at Pikes Peak

The other Pikes Peak-bound Acura TLX racer is the new TLX A-Spec. It’s set to compete in the Exhibition Class of the event and it will be driven by Nick Robinson, who’s looking to replicate his success in Pikes Peak after piloting the NSX to a Time Attack 2 victory last year. This time, Robinson will take control of a racer that’s packing a 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6 engine making 500 horsepower. All that power is complemented by a carbon fiber splitter, a new rear wing, a spartan interior, a heavily modified suspension system, and a limited-slip differential. Hard to say that Acura didn’t prepare the TLX A-Spec to be all that it can be at Pikes Peak. With all these modifications in place, it’s hard to see the debuting racer fall short of expectations.

2018 Acura TLX High Resolution Exterior
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note: photo of the Acura TLX A-Spec

Last but certainly not least is the Acura NSX racer that’s looking to build off of the success it had in the Time Attack 2 Class last year. This time, the NSX is moving up in class as it prepares to compete in Time Attack 1. The competition is expected to be a lot tougher as is the case when you race against more potent race cars, but Acura isn’t short-cutting its goals either. In addition to having Pike Peak mainstay James Robinson sit behind the wheel of the NSX, Acura also put in a lot of work on the GT3-inspired race car, including putting in a new front splitter and a massive rear wing. A software tune to the car’s hybrid system should also ensure improved performance out of the car.

Acura's Preparing For a Full-On Onslaught at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb High Resolution Exterior
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note: photo of the Acura NSX racer

Acura is taking its participation at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb very seriously

It goes without saying that Acura’s taking its participation at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb very seriously. Whether it gets the desired results in the race is something that we’re all looking forward to seeing. What’s important at this point, though, is that the preparations have been made and the Honda-owned automaker is all geared up to make another run at glory at the Race to the Clouds.

Read our full review on the Acura NSX GT3 here.

Acura will field a pair of Acura TLX sport sedans in the 95th running of The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 25, joining the NSX supercar that will return following last year’s victory.

The TLX GT, driven by long-time Acura race car driver Peter Cunningham in his Pikes Peak debut, will compete in the Pikes Peak Open class, while Honda R&D engineer Nick Robinson, coming off victory in an NSX in last year’s Pikes Peak Time Attack 2 Production class, will drive a 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec that will make its racing debut in the Exhibition class. Honda R&D engineer and Nick’s brother, James Robinson, will drive a production-based NSX with GT3-inspired modifications in the Time Attack 1 class.

This is the sixth consecutive year that Acura will race vehicles in the Pikes Peak event.

Acura's Preparing For a Full-On Onslaught at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb High Resolution Exterior
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2018 Acura TLX A-Spec Racing Debut

The Pikes Peak Acura TLX A-Spec features a modified suspension, a 500-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 turbo engine and a limited-slip differential for more effective transfer of power to the front wheels. Optimized specifically for this hill climb course, custom engine software and tuning was done in-house by a team of North American Honda R&D engineers. Much of the major engine hardware was pulled from the TLX GT program, including rods, pistons, camshafts and valvetrain. On the exterior, the TLX A-Spec features a hand-crafted carbon-fiber splitter and standoff rear wing while the interior has been entirely stripped of its luxury appointments to reduce weight. A veteran of Pikes Peak, Nick Robinson has run the course for several years, winning the motorcycle Pikes Peak 250 class in 2014. Last year, Robinson piloted the 2017 NSX to victory in the Time Attack 2 Production class.

Acura's Preparing For a Full-On Onslaught at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb High Resolution Exterior
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Acura TLX GT Returns to Competition

The all-wheel drive TLX GT race car features the same twin-turbo V6 motor setup used in the Pirelli World Challenge series from 2014 to 2016, but has been tuned on multiple levels to accommodate the elevation changes of Pikes Peak. The new software mapping developed by Honda Performance Development (HPD) optimizes turbo operation and boost pressures for the decreased levels of oxygen on the way to the 14,115-foot summit. HPD also tuned the TLX GT’s suspension specifically for this hill climb environment, and the transmission’s gearing has been revised for faster acceleration coming out of the course’s many hairpin turns.

Other modifications to the Acura TLX GT include aerodynamic components such as the addition of front fender louvres and revised dive planes. Also, the rear wing was moved up and back to increase downforce. The TLX GT will be piloted by Peter Cunningham of RealTime Racing who has been racing Acuras since 1992. The Pikes Peak "rookie" has claimed 14 professional drivers’ championships, in a variety of disciplines including road racing, ice racing and performance rallying.

"I’ve always wanted to race with Acura at Pikes Peak. It’s a challenge I’ve never done," said Cunningham. "I think we have a great opportunity with the Acura TLX GT and look forward to seeing how it competes on the hill."

Acura's Preparing For a Full-On Onslaught at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb High Resolution Exterior
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GT3-inspired Acura NSX Set for Time Attack 1

The 2017 Acura NSX competing in the Time Attack 1 class will be driven by James Robinson of Honda R&D’s North American powertrain development group. A veteran of Pikes Peak, James has competed since 2011, driving a first-generation NSX in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb from 2012 to 2015 and winning the Exhibition class in 2011. Taking learnings from last year’s run, as well as adopting ideas from the NSX GT3 race car, the NSX has been lightened and aerodynamic elements have been added, including a bigger wing and front splitter. The NSX’s software has been tuned to optimize engine and the Sport Hybrid system performance for the hill climb. Also, R-compound tires will complement the production vehicle’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD™).

As the Official Pace Car sponsor, Acura will feature the recently launched 2018 TLX A-Spec, sporting the new Acura design direction. In addition, Acura will provide MDX Rookie Orientation vehicles for coaches’ use leading up to the race. Jack Glavan, manager of the Pikes Peak Highway and an incredible supporter of Pikes Peak for many years, will lead the field of 100 entrants to the top of the 14,115-foot Colorado peak.

For Pikes Peak race attendees, the TLX GT, TLX A-Spec, NSX and pace cars will appear at a number of pre-race activities, including the popular Fan Fest on June 23 in downtown Colorado Springs from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. MDT.

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