In his 4th year at Le Mans, Ben Keating will be driving the number 85 Risi Competizione supported Keating Motorsports Ferrari 488 GTE in the AM class, alongside him in the car will be Jeroen Bleekemolen and Luca Stolz.
“It’s interesting as this is my 4th Le Mans, I feel the prior experience (in LMP2) makes a difference as I know where I can make up time and where the Prototype cars will be quicker and like to overtake. Also I find it is easier for me to have confidence on track, after being quicker in the prototype I am used to the track approaching me at a greater speed.”
Ben drove the Oreca 03R-Nissan in 2016 and the Riley MK 30 Gibson in 2017: “It was unfortunate these cars were not competitive, but what it did mean is that I could spend as much time as possible in the car learning the track, because of course you cannot come here and practice”.
Ben is currently running in the IMSA WeatherTech series in the USA, driving the Mercedes AMG in the GT3 class with Jeroen, while here at Le Mans he will be in the Ferrari 488. “It’s a very well designed car the 488, the feedback to the driver from the car is maybe better than any car I have ever driven – as a driver you can really tell what’s going on! The Ferrari has a very low centre of gravity and just glides through the air, it’s amazing to me how this car has such a small slip stream, good top speed yet has great aero downforce in the corners. Put together with it being a very comfortable car to drive, I can now understand why the teams running the 488 in IMSA are such strong competitors.”
Having raced in both the Le Mans 24 Hour and Daytona 24 (winning in 2015) Ben told me that it’s very different racing but he loves them both: “They are so different - whereas Le Mans is a long lap time of around 4 minutes and run mainly on public roads, Daytona is around a 1:50 lap time and all happens within the oval. And there are so many more fans here at Le Mans, they appear to be more fanatical and passionate about their racing, it’s great that there is something going on all week here at Le Mans”.
“The rules are different of course – at Daytona in 2017 we ran a 100% perfect race but got 3rd. The two cars that beat us spent 10 mins more in the pits, which is an eternity at Daytona – but due to the rules and caution periods they could get their laps back which they had lost. Here at Le Mans you do not have this type of safety car periods, the easiest way to do well at Le Mans is to be consistent. The tracks are different, the fans are different and the rules are different but I absolutely love them both, they are my favourite events in the year”.
So thanks to ‘the most expensive Christmas present’ from his wife, Ben Keating is ready to race at Le Mans in 2018.
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