The American Le Mans Series got a huge boost Wednesday with the announcement in New York by the Acura division of American Honda Motor that it plans to enter the ALMS series in 2007 - with the ultimate goal of racing in the premier LMP1 class at Le Mans! The announcement marks the first factory motorsports program for the Acura brand in its 20-year history.

In the words of John Mendel, senior VP of Auto Operations for Acura, "Our entry as a full factory team in the American Le Mans Series will accurately reflect Acura's position as a leader in automotive performance and technology."

The Acura ALMS program features the first race engine developed from scratch by Honda Performance Development in California, which also supplies engines to the Indy Racing League.

By the sounds of it, Acura is in sports car competition for the long haul. In 2007, Acura powerplants will power multiple LMP2 chassis from Lola and Courage, as a prelude to development of a complete Acura LMP1 chassis and engine package to compete in the ALMS and ultimately at Le Mans. Acura's LMP2s will debut at the 2007 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March, and testing will begin this summer.

Acura has competed in the upper echelons of sports car racing before, although never as a full factory effort. Acura engines powered Spice cars in the IMSA Camel Lights series to three consecutive championships in the early '90s.

More pictures of Acura's ALMS concept after the jump!

[Sources: Honda, American Le Mans Series]