The No. 66 Will Feature ‘Chiaki’s Journey’ on the Car
By Jeff Olson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Gradient Racing has a journey to call its own.
The team’s No. 66 Acura NSX GT3 Evo22, co-driven by Mario Farnbacher and Marc Miller, will carry a livery featuring an Acura anime series when it’s unveiled next week at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
“Chiaki’s Journey,” a four-part anime series presented by Acura, features Chiaki, a young racer, and her journey to the biggest race of her life. Gradient Racing’s NSX will sport a wrap featuring the series, with Chiaki’s eyes on the hood and doors.
Long Beach’s 11-turn, 1.968-mile street circuit will provide the backdrop for Gradient’s journey in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona (GTD) class.
“I’m thrilled that we get to participate in Acura’s backyard,” Farnbacher said. “I’m also excited because Marc and I are able to race together. I really enjoy the challenge of street circuits. The tight corners basically give you no runoff and no margin for error. That is such a great challenge. The risk-versus-reward nature of the track is what every driver really wants.”
Farnbacher, Kyffin Simpson and Till Bechtolsheimer teamed to finish 11th in GTD March 19 in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts. But it’s a clean slate, points-wise, heading to Long Beach, as the race kicks off the eight-race IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup season for GTD and only Sprint Cup points will be awarded at this race.
“We’ve had some bad luck, so an extra outing with our Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 is a nice way to keep the momentum up,” said Andris Laivins, Gradient Racing’s team principal. “Marc and Mario have both been on the podium in this chassis, our pit stops this season have been clicking, and I think we have a great shot next week.”
Live coverage of the race begins April 9 at 5 p.m. ET on USA Network and Peacock.
No. 70 Inception McLaren Back on the List
The updated entry list for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach includes the No. 70 inception racing McLaren 720S GT3 that will be co-driven by Brendan Iribe and Frederik Schandorff.
The GTD car inadvertently was omitted from Wednesday’s release of the entry list.
Iribe and Schandorff have been impressive in the first two races of the season, finishing fifth in both the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Twelve Hours of Sebring.
The addition of the No. 70 McLaren brings the total car count at Long Beach to 27. The revised entry list is available here.
WeatherTech Racing Focusing on Mercedes-AMG
WeatherTech Racing announced earlier this week that it will run its Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the remainder of the 2022 WeatherTech Championship season in the GTD PRO class.
Cooper MacNeil will be the car’s full-time driver alongside various Mercedes-AMG factory drivers. MacNeil will be joined by Raffaele Marciello in the No. 79 Mercedes at Long Beach.
The team earned a podium in this month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, placing third with MacNeil and co-drivers Jules Gounon and Maro Engel.
“Our performance in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 at Daytona and Sebring was the motivating factor behind continuing with it for the rest of the season,” MacNeil said. “We led the race at the Rolex 24 before our drivetrain issue, and then we had a strong podium finish at Sebring.
“We also have a winning history at Long Beach, having won there in the Mercedes-AMG in 2017. We are going out west to see if we can repeat that win.”