Sebring International Raceway is one of Ben Keating’s favorite race tracks. So when the opportunity to pull double-duty at Sebring presented itself with the World Endurance Championship also racing at SIR over the weekend, Keating was tempted to race the additional eight hours in the 1000 Miles of Sebring.
After all, his Keating Motorsports will be competing in the World Endurance Championship’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, but not in his usual No. 33 Wynn’s Mercedes-Team Riley Motorsports. It will be in a Ford GT.
“The big news for me personally is I’m going to be the first ever privateer, non-factory team, to race a Ford GT in the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” Keating said. “We were there a few weeks ago at Sebring testing the Ford GT so I had the opportunity to drive the car at Sebring. That was out first opportunity to get some seat time and get a feel for the car. It was a great experience.”
As tempting as it was to get some time in the Ford under race conditions, Keating decided it would be better to sit out Friday’s race.
Quite frankly, we contemplating running the Ford in GT Am at Sebring because we’re already going to be there, but after the all the wrecks that happened at Daytona the Ford program got really light on their spare body parts,” Keating said. “So we made the decision it was probably smarter to not put everything at risk in the Friday race, to save our money and our car for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
Keating is thrilled to have Wynn’s as a full-season sponsor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but was ecstatic the company also got behind his Le Mans effort, as the Lakeland-based company is returning to motorsports in a big way — and the team’s car has quickly become a fan favorite with its throwback livery.
“In celebration of 80 years of providing advanced automotive technology and solutions to help ensure the longevity and enhance the performance of your vehicle, Wynn’s is proud to return to motorsports in 2019,” said Vice President and General Manager, ITW Global Brands, James Stone. “We are honored to partner with Ford and Keating Motorsports in supporting their iconic Ford GT.”
The driving line-up of Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga is a strong one and they’re looking forward to the world’s most famous endurance race.
“It is so cool to have Wynn’s on board for Le Mans,” Bleekemolen said. “The retro livery was received so well in IMSA and now we are going to have a Wynn’s Ford GT for the 24 hours of Le Mans. I think it will be a stand out car, people will love it, and I’m sure lots of models of our car are going to be sold!”