Visit Florida Racing driver Marc Goossens pushed the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Corvette DP as hard as he could in qualifying for the BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday.
Unfortunately, the 15-minute session ended early for the fast Belgian after he spun and was hit in the hairpin of the 1.968-mile temporary street circuit as he targeted a prime starting position for Saturday’s 100-minute third round of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Goossens, who will start the race before turning the car over to fellow Visit Florida Racing pilot Ryan Hunter-Reay, knew that he had his hands full with the Prototype as he fought to extract every last mile an hour that he could from the vivid blue machine. That effort was paying dividends as he logged the second-fastest lap in the session just before spinning.
“On my quickest lap, and the lap after that, I scraped the wall big time coming out of Turns 4 and 5,” said Goossens. “On that last lap, I was coming out of Turn 11 and I just lost the rear and got into the wall. And then the Mazda came around and hit me at the rear wheels. It is a shame because I think we could have gone a little bit better. You never know how much is left in the car, but I think what’s up on the board doesn’t show what is in the car.”
After setting the third quickest time in the Friday morning practice session and then the second fastest time in the second 25-minute session Friday evening, the Visit Florida Racing team was looking for a front row start. But with the spin costing Goossens his fastest lap per IMSA rules, the No. 90 Visit Florida Prototype is now set to start seventh on Saturday. That deep grid position doesn’t have the team concerned as it looks to post another podium result at the hugely popular event.
“I think we have a decent car, a podium car,” said Visit Florida Racing team owner Troy Flis. “Now, starting at the back like this will maybe mean looking at a couple of different strategies to get us back up toward the front. This is a good team, so we will be alright. We’ve got some work to do tonight with the body damage and we’ll be going through everything to see what we can find just to be ready to go tomorrow.”
There is damage to fix as well as time to find as the team looks to gain the right balance of comfort and speed on race day.
“Unfortunately, right now the car is a bit of a challenge,” admitted Goossens. “On older tires, the car has been inconsistent. So that’s a concern for the race but hopefully we can come up with a good solution with the engineers and make it more confident. It’s a street circuit—as I showed today, anything can go wrong! So we will see what happens tomorrow.”
Hunter-Reay has been tabbed to substitute for Ryan Dalziel, who is in World Endurance Championship action this weekend at Silverstone as the Scottish-born racer kicks off another element of a very busy season of racing.
The 100-minute sprint race will go green Saturday at 4:05 PM local time (7:05 PM ET) with live coverage of the event beginning at 7:00 PM ET on FOX Sports 2.
FOX Sports 1 will televise a replay of the Long Beach race on Sunday, April 17 at 12:30 PM ET.