It has taken the team principals behind Gradient Racing 10 years to achieve their long-held dream of entering the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and with a newly announced Michelin Endurance Cup program for the No. 66 Acura NSX GT3, Andris Laivins, Declan Brennan, and Marc Miller have something to celebrate.
In association with Honda Performance Development, the Austin, Texas-based team will open the season at the Rolex 24 and add stops at the 12 Hours of Sebring, Six Hours at The Glen, and Petit Le Mans at Road America with two-time GT Daytona class champion Mario Farnbacher, Gradient veteran Till Bechtolsheimer, and HPD junior open-wheel talent Kyffin Simpson. Miller, who was recently cleared to drive after rehabilitating from a knee injury, will serve as the team’s fourth driver at Daytona.
“It’s awesome to be able to combine our regulars Till and Marc, with Mario’s extraordinary knowledge of the NSX, and our newest Gradient driver, Kyffin Simpson,” Laivins said. “He has already had a bunch of success in the open-wheel world, and we’re eager to have him bring everything he learned in the HPD Academy to our program.
“This will be my 20th season racing professionally, and though I’ve run this race a handful of times, and we made it on the podium last year with one of our clients, this is the first time we’re doing it fully in-house. It’s a big deal for our team. With our hardworking group of women and men, an updated NSX GT3 Evo22, and great technical support from HPD, we are going to Florida with a good package. Daytona is a big race; it feels special every time you get to do it.”
Although this will be Gradient’s first run with its Acura at Daytona, its crew quietly ran the successful SunEnergy1 Racing GTD effort last year at the Rolex 24. The new and stronger IMSA alignment with HPD adds the team’s role as a touring car chassis builder for American Honda’s racing division.
“This program represents a coming together of many members of the HPD family,” said HPD commercial motorsports manager John Whiteman. “Pairing Kyffin Simpson as the FRA Champion and an HPD Academy graduate with two-time GTD Champion Mario Farnbacher authentically demonstrates opportunities for HPD powered drivers.
“Additionally, Gradient is a longtime partner, who has won races with the NSX GT3 but also assembles all of the championship winning HPD Civic Type R race cars. We are all very appreciative of the opportunity to bring honor to Acura Motorsports in such an organic way.”