ViperExchange.com, Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen Qualify 10th for Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of The Americas
Keating and Riley Motorsports No. 33 ViperExchange.com/Gas Monkey Garage Dodge Viper GT3-R Looking For Third-Straight COTA Win Saturday
AUSTIN, Texas (September 16, 2016) – Texas-based ViperExchange.com and Ben Keating qualified 10th Friday in the No. 33 ViperExchange.com/ Gas Monkey Garage Dodge Viper GT3-R for tomorrow’s Lone Star Le Mans IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Circuit of The Americas (COTA).
“I love it here,” Keating said. “I’ve been very successful here and I like to say I love the tracks that love me back. It’s really a good place, and I hope it comes to us in the race. We’ve had struggles this weekend, different gremlins we’re chasing and grip struggles.”
The 10th place qualifying effort came from a session-best lap time of 2:10.979 that was more than two seconds slower than the GT Daytona (GTD) pole winner’s top lap.
“We’ve got the car trimmed down quite a bit, so we’re low downforce and high speed, but it’s really not working for us right now,” Keating said. “I’m really disappointed with qualifying. There’s such extremely low grip out there. Right now the grip is so low that having a low-down-force car is really hurting us.”
Bleekemolen has seen the Riley Motorsports team overcome similar obstacles in the past for winning efforts.
“I’m confident the team will find the issues and fix it, and we can try and a have a good race tomorrow,” Bleekemolen said. “We’re quite competitive. I think the pace of the car is pretty strong. We don’t know what the others have left but I don't think we’re too far off. I really think tomorrow can be good.”
A pre-race strategy call the team has already made is to change all four tires, which will move the No. 33 to the back of the GTD starting field.
“The tires fall off pretty quick here, so we’ve elected to take on four new ones and start in the back, sacrificing four positions. I think with new tires we’ll be able to make it back up pretty quick.”
Keating will start tomorrow’s race and later hand the No. 33 off to Bleekemolen, who will race the Viper to the checkered flag.
“We have to start from the back, but that’s okay,” Bleekemolen said. “It’ll be hot but it’s the same for everyone so we will push for good results.”
Race-day Saturday starts with a 20-minute warmup at 8 a.m. CDT with the featured two-hour and 40-minute IMSA WeatherTech Lone Star Le Mans race starting later that morning at 11:35 a.m. CDT.
About ViperExchange.com: ViperExchange.com is the largest Dodge Viper and exotic cars licensed dealer located just Northwest of Houston, Texas. With over 100 Dodge Vipers typically for sale and more arriving daily for sale, ViperExchange.com has combined the largest inventory in the world of new and pre-owned Dodge Vipers. ViperExchange.com also offers the best prices and discounts. Special orders, specific model searches and financing options are also available. For more information, visit ViperExchange.com directly, Twitter @ViperExchange and Facebook at Facebook.com/Viper-Exchange.