The Keating Motorsports GTE-Am entered Ford GT is set to run a retro Wynn’s livery at the Le Mans 24 Hours this June, adding to the Wynn’s-backed Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 program he runs in IMSA (pictured).
Team boss Ben Keating, who’s effort is the first customer program for the GT, has high hopes for his first race with his new car, and is excited by the prospect of running a standout paint scheme in the race.
“Wynn’s has a big presence in France — it’s a big market for them, so it’s great to bring that to the race,” said the Texan. “The reception from the livery in IMSA has been huge — everyone loves it, so I can’t wait to see what the fans think of it in France — the purple, the pink, the orange are going to look great on the GT.”
Because his team is the only team running a GT in GTE Am this year, Keating says this year’s trip to La Sarthe will feel very different.
“This will be my fifth Le Mans. But it will be a unique experience. Before I’ve been in an LMP2 car and most fans don’t have a connection with a Gibson engine or Ligier for example, and even in a Ferrari, there were loads on the grid. This year I’ll be in the only Ford in the GTE Am class. I actually have a big connection to Ford through my dealerships, and the GT having so much history at Le Mans, makes it special. It’s like when I went with a Viper, the fan reception was so good.
“I could have gone back to Le Mans this year in a Ferrari, but I don’t sell those — I want to race what I sell.”
Keating has already tested the car at Sebring, and had a very positive first run. The car — which is the 2016 IMSA Ganassi chassis that won the car’s first race globally at Laguna Seca that year — will now be shipped to Europe for Le Mans; no further testing is planned before the Le Mans Test Day itself.
“The next time I drive it I’ll be at Le Mans!” he told RACER. “When we tested three weeks ago, we (Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga) all drove and spent time own the Ford simulator in North Carolina. We did a full day and it was awesome. I’ve driven a lot of types of GT cars and usually they feel similar in the GT3 specification box, but it is drastically different.
“It doesn’t have much power, it has a low center of gravity. It’s a momentum car, rather than a point and shoot. It drives more like a formula car — which is why I understand why drivers get so angry if we hold them up!”
Beyond Le Mans, Keating says there’s no plans yet for any additional races with the car.
“We’re talking about lots of different options,” he said. “I can say that I am looking at it, studying it, but we need to get through Le Mans first. Nothing is planned yet, as what we have in June is such a big deal.”