Marc Miller absent for VIR due to Achilles tendon rupture

Gradient Racing announced Tuesday, September 28, that regular driver Marc Miller ruptured his Achilles tendon during a training exercise after the Acura Grand Prix in Long Beach last weekend. As a result, he is absent for next weekend’s Michelin GT Challenge at VIR.

“We’ve made continual improvements this season and I’ve worked hard to be physically and mentally strong in the car, so this injury is more than frustrating,” Miller said in a press release. “I will continue to help the team prepare for VIR. Up to [Bechtolsheimer] and I’ll do our usual pre-event track analysis and simulator work ahead of next week’s race.

Miller was in the car for the remainder of the year as Gradient Racing typically only competes in the WeatherTech Sprint Cup races. He plans to spend the next few months recovering from his injury. The plan is to be ready for the start of the 2022 season in January.

In Miller’s place, Gradient Racing hired defending GT Daytona champion Mario Farnbacher to drive the # 66 Acura NSX GT3 at VIR alongside Bechtolsheimer. Besides being the champion from last year, Farnbacher has another natural advantage. Gradient Racing drives the exact same chassis with which Farnbacher won the title last year at Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian. This intimate knowledge should benefit the VIR team.

“First of all, I am happy and grateful that Andris [Laivins, team manager] thought of me and I hope Marc will recover quickly, ”said Farnbacher. “I hope we can put in a very good performance at VIR and end the Sprint Cup season with a great result.”

In seven starts in 2021, Miller and Bechtolsheimer are currently seventh in the WeatherTech Sprint Cup standings with a best third place finish at Belle Isle Park in June. Miller and Bechtolsheimer were just eighth on Saturday at Long Beach.

Miller has driven intermittently for Gradient Racing since 2012, first in what is now the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and now in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The team, formerly known as CJ Wilson Racing, started out in the Street Tuner class, driving Mazdaspeed3s and the Mazda MX-5, a car that was underpowered compared to the rest of the class, but with braking and superior handling.

The team eventually switched to Grand Sport with the original version of the Porsche Cayman Clubsport, a car dubbed “Darth Cayman”. In “Darth Cayman” Miller and Daniel Burkett finished second in GS points. Miller has been racing in GT3 gear with the team since 2018, splitting time between the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and what is now the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS.

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