Gradient Racing’s one-off appearance in the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup round at Long Beach will be backed by Acura’s anime series, Chiaki’s Journey, the team has confirmed.
HPD factory driver Mario Farnbacher and longtime Gradient driver Marc Miller will pilot the No. 66 Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 in next weekend’s 100-minute sprint race, promoting the luxury automaker’s new four-part YouTube series.
Set at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, the series showcases the all-new lineup of Acura Type S performance vehicles that’s driven by a young hero’s quest to overcome multiple challenges on her path toward victory.
The entire series is available on Acura’s YouTube channel.
“Chiaki’s Journey combines anime with Acura’s ‘Less Talk, More Drive’ cinematic-style, to draw a new generation of premium car buyers to the Acura brand,” said Jon Ikeda, Vice President and Acura brand officer.
“I can’t think of a better place to showcase our performance-driven Acura Type S line than on the beautiful Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3 to be raced on the streets of Long Beach by Mario and Marc, just as Chiaki races to victory here in the anime series.”
The Long Beach event will mark Gradient’s only currently scheduled Sprint Cup race of the season, after the Texas-based squad switched focus to the Michelin Endurance Cup rounds this year.
Sportscar365 understands that the team, however, is actively seeking partnerships and funding to complete the Sprint Cup season.
“Long Beach is going to be a really fun addition to our endurance schedule,” said team principal Andris Laivins.
“The entire team has performed at a super high level at Daytona and Sebring but 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.
“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.”
Farnbacher added: “I’m thrilled that we get to participate in Acura’s backyard. 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 run off and no margin forever, that is such a great challenge.
“The risk versus reward nature of the track is what every driver really wants. Marc is a good driver and I have enjoyed racing against him over the last few seasons.
“But having worked with him at Daytona, I am confident that we have a car capable of making the podium and possibly even making it to the top step.”
Miller said he’s “really looking forward” to Long Beach, in what will mark his second WeatherTech Championship start of the season.
“Our Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 should be strong and as a home race for the Acura brand we will be pushing hard for a great result,” he said.
“Having spent the last couple seasons racing against Mario, it will be especially fun to team up to go for a win together.”