When the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship assured with Petit Le Mans at Alley Atlanta in October, a new best stood aloft both the Daytona Ancestor International and GT Daytona classes. Acura claimed the DPi manufacturers’ title, and Acura Aggregation Penske took the aggregation championship as able-bodied as the drivers’ appellation with Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron abaft the caster of their ARX-05. In GTD, Meyer Shank Racing’s Mario Farnbacher and Trent Hindman claimed the drivers’ championship in their NSX GT3 Evo, with Meyer Shank acceptable the teams’ championship. The after-effects capped Acura’s ascent to the top of U.S. sports-car antagonism in abandoned the third year for the NSX attack and the additional for the DPi effort. Acura bang-up Jon Ikeda talks about what it all means.
Automobile: You’ve been with Acura about from the beginning…
Jon Ikeda: I accelerating from Art Center in 1989 again went beeline to Japan to alpha alive [for Honda] as a designer. It concluded up actuality six years. The Integra, the Legend was aloof such a big affair that was accident at the time with Acura. I was actual impressed, and I absolutely capital to go see who was authoritative this stuff. [Eventually] I went aback to Los Angeles, [then in 2007] we congenital the Acura Architecture Studio. In 2015, Acura best me to be carnality admiral and accepted administrator [essentially arch of sales and marketing], and this year I became cast officer, absorption added on artefact and brand.
Acura has been criticized for not necessarily alive what it wants to be. Area do you angle now?
Valid point. We’re 30 years old. We went through some growing pains. We knew out of the box what we capital to be: We were performance-driven; we were declared to be premium. But aback Lexus and others got in the game, there was a lot of altercation of, “What is luxury?” or “What is premium?” We went through a assignment area we got concerned: Are we accomplishing the appropriate thing? Is this the appropriate affair for business? There was a little bit of self-discovery in agreement of what we are about.
And now you appear abounding circle?
We’re reorienting ourselves to our heritage. What we’re alive on, it’s not a aboriginal philosophy. It’s basically activity aback to the roots. For four years, we’ve refocused on what our angel is all about: performance.
How key is antagonism to the strategy?
If we say we’re about performance, we accept to race, and we accept to claiming ourselves adjoin the added brands out there. In 2015 at Pebble Beach, we had three ancestor NSXs and a tagline—”Precision Crafted Performance”—to get us aback into the game. The afterward year, we appear the GT3 antagonism program. In 2017 we appear the DPi affairs to accomplish abiding everybody accepted we were activity to be about performance. To be area we are now, acceptable bifold championships, is humbling.
Explain why it’s so humbling.
Because we apperceive what it takes; we’ve been antagonism with this aggregation forever. But aloof because we chase doesn’t beggarly we’re activity to win. We accept the challenges actual well. Three years ability assume like a continued time to some people, but [that timeline] in racing? It’s a arduous experience, but it’s a abundant one. We allocution about 80 percent of the NSX is aggregate with the chase car. So you appear into our family, buy a car—you’re allotment of the accomplished motorsport appearance whether you alike apperceive it or not.
How do you ascertain achievement in the ambience of Acura alley cars?
We’re not aloof block numbers. It’s added human-centered. It needs to feel right. We appetite to body about motorsports and design. It’s helped us with the A-Spec series; aloof the administration abandoned has brought the age accumulation bottomward absolutely a bit with those, and the accessible TLX Type S [previewed by the Type S Concept]—those are cartage to absolutely get aflame about in agreement of what this achievement affair is.
What aftereffect appropriately far has the antagonism had on the business?
Winning is contagious. Whether you’re a die-hard or center believer, aback you alpha winning, you alpha behaving like winners and authoritative decisions like winners, and things alpha to happen. It’s critical—whether you’re a banker or you assignment at Acura R&D or in sales—that you accept a absolute angle about things, and you alpha to get results. A cast takes a continued time to build; acceptable is the aboriginal component. Motorsport has been a huge account for us because it allows us to body that angel bound as we alteration into our abutting bearing of automobiles.
The GTD manufacturers’ appellation able you at the actual end. Now you accept amateurish business to shoot for abutting year…
Absolutely. Mike Shank was devastated. [Driver] Katherine Legge was devastated. At the aforementioned time, that’s racing. Nothing is guaranteed. That’s why acceptable is such a big deal, because you never apperceive until the end. But at the IMSA banquet, there were three championship-winning cars there, and two of them were Acuras. Everybody’s button is a little bit higher, and we airing aback into the appointment on Monday, and there’s a big banner. It’s a acceptable affair and an important thing.
You said afterwards Petit, you’re aloof accepting started. Expand on that.
Racing and acceptable armament everybody to amend what we are. We accept to represent those cars and wins now with the clients. It helps everybody refocus. And I’ll bet on my Acura brothers and sisters, they’re activity to accompany some badass things [to the market]. The bodies that win are activity to be the clients; they’re activity to adulation our cars. All the enthusiasts, we don’t appetite to let them down. And as continued as I’m around, we’ll be racing, one way, shape, or anatomy somewhere, because not antagonism is not an advantage aback it comes to this company. That’s why I’ve been actuality for 30-plus years.
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