Mario Farnbacher and Gradient Racing began the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season’s first race on 29 January. Instead of achieving the hoped-for top result in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the team had to make do with a 13th place in the GTD category. Technical defects dashed the Franconian and his teammates’ chances of a better result in the #66 Acura NSX GT3 Evo22.
“The season kick-off was far from straightforward. Last weekend’s accident during the Roar before the 24 cost us valuable dry kilometres”, the twofold GTD champion said. “Due to the rain during the race weekend itself, conditions weren’t easy, making preparation also a problem. Nevertheless, I must say a huge thanks to the entire crew. They were incredibly committed throughout both weeks and despite all setbacks, gave their all to present us with the best possible car. I’m very proud of that!”
Having started the race from 16th on the grid, Mario Farnbacher, Till Bechtolsheimer, Marc Miller and Kyffin Simpson were set back initially by a penalty. However, the quartet stayed calm and worked their way steadily forwards. Bechtolsheimer delivered lap times on line with the GTD frontrunners in his double stint and underlined the Texas racing squad’s ambitions right from the beginning. Farnbacher took over and continued where his teammate had left off. The race saw the Acura #66 within striking distance of top-class positions and at times on the leader’s tail.
“We did a good job after the initial difficulties, but problems appeared during the night”, the 29-year-old explained. “First our lifting unit packed up, which meant losing a great deal of pitting time. Then another technical defect appeared and that finally finished all hopes of a top 6.”
Farnbacher and Gradient Racing’s next opportunity for a top result comes in March, when the 12 Hours of Sebring is scheduled for 18 and 19 March.