Gradient Racing has confirmed a switch to IMSA competition for this year, with the Texas-based team having entered its Acura NSX GT3 Evo into the WeatherTech Sprint Cup.
Team regulars Marc Miller and Till Bechtolsheimer have been named drivers for the eight-race season, which kicks off at Long Beach in April.
As reported by Sportscar365 in January, an Acura team had been in the running to bolster the manufacturer’s GT Daytona class effort in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this year.
It comes after a successful campaign in GT World Challenge America powered by AWS last year that resulted in a Pro-Am class victory and several podium finishes.
The team’s last foray into IMSA competition was at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in 2018 when it was known as CJ Wilson Racing.
“2019 was a really good year. I won a Trans-Am title and Till and I were able to grab a GT3 win and and some podiums for Gradient Racing. IMSA though, has always been our main goal,” Miller said.
“The level of competition in GTD compares with any championship in the world.
“Knowing we have a chance to compete full-time in the IMSA Sprint Championship is extremely exciting. I look forward to having the opportunity to focus completely on our GT3 program this season.”
Bechtolsheimer added: “I feel we learnt a lot last year and so I’m excited to be back in IMSA to see how we fare in one of the most competitive sports car fields on the planet.”
The 2020 season will mark the team’s third year with Acura’s GT3 car, in what has seen a growing relationship that’s recently included an agreement to build Honda Civic Type R touring cars on behalf of Honda Performance Development.
“We’ve been working non-stop over the winter on the Civic Type R project, and It has been a fun challenge, but the whole team is ready to get back to racing with the NSX,” said team manager Andris Laivins.
“There’s very little time to learn the streets of Long Beach and tune the car, so we’re planning a fair bit of sim work so we can hit the ground running.
“This season is our third with the Acura brand, and every year our relationship has grown stronger.
“Working alongside the team at HPD on the touring cars has been a treat, and it’s made Gradient push harder on our NSX program because we want to continue expanding what we do as partners.
“They make it easy to run the car on track, and it helps focus our energy on the commercial side.”
Laivins indicated the Sprint Cup campaign is a likely precursor towards a full-season WeatherTech Championship effort in next year.
“In 2021, I want to have a competitive effort on the grid at Daytona,” he said. “The only way to get there from here is to put our heads down and do the work this year.”