Gradient Racing is working to repair its Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 to be ready for Sunday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona qualifying race after an accident for Kyffin Simpson during one of the Roar sessions.
The No. 66 Acura that Simpson shares with Marc Miller, Till Bechtolsheimer and Mario Farnbacher sustained right-rear damage from two impacts with the wall after looping around coming out of the kink in drizzly conditions on Saturday morning.
Miller told Sportscar365 that the team is replacing the oil pump and most of the parts around the back of the car, while the state of the engine is yet to be determined.
“It slid backwards all the way to meet the wall, and it hit the wall twice,” he said.
“It glanced and was still coming backwards, and then hit again. It did a lot of damage to the right-rear. When you have an impact like that, it pushes everything in.
“We have to make sure that the gearbox and engine are OK. You don’t just rush that back together.
“The engine is going to be assessed and the oil pump is broken, so that is being replaced.
“Basically anything that you would do cosmetically, all the way down to the rear subframe. So the subframe has damage [but] we won’t know until they have jigged this up and measured everything if this needs to be repaired.”
When Sportscar365 visited the Gradient garage on Saturday afternoon, crew members were affixing a jig to determine the extent to which the subframe had been altered.
Gradient missed the qualifying session that arranged the grid for Sunday’s 100-minute qualifying race, which in turn sets the grid for next weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The Texan team is hoping to make the start of the qualifying race, although Miller suggested that it would only do so if it was fully prepared.
“The goal is to have it ready for the qualifying race without sacrificing quality of prep for the Rolex,” he said.
“If we feel like we can’t put out what we would put out for the Rolex on-track and then be able to continue developing the car and getting quality seat time, then there’s really no point of doing it.
“You might as well just do everything right the first time and we’ll start over on Thursday.
“Things like this have happened before. We hate that it’s our car – we were all very happy with how it was, so now we would just be happy to get it where it was. But we still need to keep developing.
“The hardest part about this is how hard the crew works to get it together. But there still has to be a mindset that once that is complete, there is a laundry list of items we have to complete for all the competitive elements of the event.
“And now we’re delayed a full day, but hopefully that’s it.”
Gradient Racing will skip Saturday’s two-hour night practice session, with all of its setup and strategic work postponed to the Rolex 24 race week as time is spent fixing the car.
“I have friends in the paddock who will run seven laps in night practice, but during that time they’re doing other things: systems checks, pit stop practice, brake changes,” Miller said.
“Those are the things that we’ll miss and do on the fly next week. The good news is the fact that Andris [Laivins, team manager] last year experienced this race with a podium finish on the box, working with strategy.
“We’ve had accidents in the last 10 years. It’s not like we’re immune to it. This is what the crew do: they get the car back together and the drivers get in, and we just move on.
“The downside is that we just lose a bit of time to keep up with everyone at the same amount.
“I’d like to think that we’re not disadvantaged, but every second that we’re not able to work on something is a disadvantage.”