Austin, Texas – Gradient Racing today announced the details of its 2019 racing plans which will see a full-season entry into the Blancpain GT World Challenge America. The Austin, Texas based squad will race the updated 2019 Evo specification Acura NSX GT3 in all seven rounds of the Championship while exploring the potential of entering further North American endurance races during the year.
The squad will compete in the opening event at Circuit of the Americas, in the Pro-Am category with Till Bechtolsheimer being joined by HPD Pro, Ryan Eversley, in the Unit Nutrition backed Acura. The full Blancpain GT World Challenge America lineup will be confirmed after the season opener at the 3.427 mile, twenty-turn track. In preparation for the event, the team conducted a successful two-day test there this week.
With such a significant gap since his last outing in the car, Till Bechtolsheimer is raring to go. “Having been out of a race car since last year’s Six Hours of the Glen, the two days of testing were incredibly helpful and I can’t wait to get back to racing. The Blancpain World Challenge America season opener at CoTA will be my debut event with the brand new Gradient Racing, but working with Andris, Ryan, Marc Miller, and the rest of the crew will have a familiar feel. Hopefully it will be the same with our Acura NSX GT3, just with an Evo package!
“It’s crazy how fast things move in racing,” said Eversley. “I was doing my best to secure a deal with another potential Acura NSX team up to last week but I got the call from Andris and minutes later I was booking my flight to Austin for the test this week.
Having known Till’s regular partner, Marc Miller, for many years, the Atlanta-based driver could not have been more complimentary about his ability, particularly in getting up to speed quickly in a new car on a new track. “The test was very productive, Marc has done an extraordinary job with Till who really impressed me with his approach each day.”
“I’m also excited about working with Andris [Laivins], he is quietly one of the best engineers in any paddock. I have only had a chance to work with him once, which was coincidentally a track day at Circuit of the Americas, so I’m hopeful that will help up us get off and running quickly.”
Eversley went on to explain how he feels his experience with the car will help at Circuit of the Americas. “My knowledge of the car can be a big advantage for us in the Pro-Am division as it should allow Gradient to maximize Till’s track time throughout the race weekend.”
For Team Manager, Andris Laivins, the Blancpain World Challenge is a return to familiar territory. “I started my racing career in 2003 in what was then the SPEED World Challenge series, and ran there for many years, so it will be fun to come back and see how it has evolved under the SRO.”
“Testing this week at COTA went great. There’s still a bit of work to do on the conversion to SRO spec, but we’ll be ready. It was super helpful to get Till and Ryan in the car this week and get acclimated to the EVO kit on Pirellis. It’s going to be a busy five days from here, but I’m excited!”
Despite Laivins’ natural enthusiasm, he is aware how big a task there is in front of him and the new program. “It’s our home race, the first race as a new team, on a new tire, with new Evo updates from from HPD, so it’s a lot of pressure, but we are learning fast. We’ve been in this position before as a group, so thankfully we know where to focus our energy. Till has been in the NSX since we started, and Ryan obviously brings a wealth of experience in the platform, so the driving side has been seamless and easy. I say it often, but the Acura brand and the technical support from HPD have just been incredible.
Missing from the lineup at Circuit of the Americas is Laivins’ long-time pro, Marc Miller. “Marc has a great Trans-Am commitment this year, but he’s still a core member of our team and I’d expect to see him in the Acura at some other outings this season.”
Miller’s substitute, Ryan Eversley, is buoyed by this week’s efforts and carries high hopes into next week’s season opener. “The 2019 Blancpain World Challenge America GT3 field is absolutely stacked this year but this is Gradient’s home race and I’m confident that we have the ability and speed to get the new NSX GT3 Evo onto the podium.”
Gradient Racing’s 2019 season gets officially underway next week with Round One of the Blancpain World Challenge America at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas with Official Practice starting on Friday, March 1st.
You can watch the race live on CBS Sports and for full event coverage please follow Gradient Racing on Twitter at @GradientRaing, on Instagram at @gradientracing and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GradientRacing/