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Riley Delighted by Surprise Podium for Visit Florida

No. 90 VisitFlorida Riley surpasses expectations at Daytona…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

Although the Riley Mk. 30 Gibson was unable to match the dominant pace of the Cadillac DPi-V.Rs in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Bill Riley was delighted to see customer squad Visit Florida Racing secure a podium finish.

The Riley chassis, jointly developed for the new-for-2017 LMP2 regulations with Multimatic, was arguably the prototype least prepared for the rigors of 24 hour racing, having only completed 11 continuous laps prior to the race.

Yet despite having little to no expectations of even reaching the end of the first hour, the Troy Flis-led operation continued to log the laps as other more proven runners, including Rebellion Racing, DragonSpeed and Tequila Patron ESM fell by the wayside.

Renger van der Zande, Marc Goossens and Rene Rast led 39 laps in total and finished just a single lap adrift of the winning No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac in third.

“I’m pretty happy with everything,” Riley told Sportscar365.

“Obviously the other two cars that finished first and second, I don’t think anybody had anything for them, but at the same time they were a bit out of the box you might say, so I am happy with how it turned out.

“I’m usually not a second or third place kind of guy, but considering where we’re all at on that program, I’m going to take it.”

While Visit Florida was operating out of the pit stall next to the Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3s, Riley fortunately had little by way of hands-on work to do.

“I [was] really anxious to see the car without the engine covers on it and the nose off of it and see if anything is loose, anything is cracked, missing or that kind of thing,” Riley continued.

“I’d watch every stop to make sure the engine cover didn’t come off or if there was a problem, it was something that if I could help out with, but the team didn’t need any assistance, they did it all.”

Audi factory driver Rast admitted that he was surprised to make the podium given the team’s lack of preparation and even challenge the Cadillacs during the wet-running.

“It’s amazing, there are no other words,” Rast told Sportscar365.

“We actually expected to stop in our garage after 50 minutes, because we didn’t know how long the car will last. We were counting the laps, because our longest run before was maybe 10 or 11 laps.

“We never did 20 [laps] or 1 hour in a row, so we didn’t know what to expect, but the car was just running and running without any big issues.

“Actually in the rain, we were quicker than the others and we somehow managed our tires a little bit better.

“We could keep them warmer and therefore have a better pace in the rain, but unfortunately the track dried up again and we lost that pace, so it would have been nice if the rain had stayed a little bit longer to actually fight for position.”

Although the Riley was unable to compete with the Cadillacs in a straight fight, partly due to an unfavorable Balance of Performance, Rast is optimistic the car will be a more competitive proposition with more mileage, starting from the next round at Sebring.

“I think the car was well prepared because we had no issues, but obviously we need to learn the car because we still haven’t done any setup work,” he said.

“We were like three or four seconds down every lap; it felt like LMP2 and LMP1 Hybrid.

“We just had no top speed and it’s a bit sad to lose a race like that, but in the end we must be happy with what we got. Third place is just incredible.”

While Visit Florida is currently the only full-time customer team with the global-spec LMP2 car, Riley said he’s anticipating a boost in sales figures.

“I think it was good for us to have the highest-finishing Gibson-powered car and the most reliable Gibson-powered car, I think that was a very good thing,” he said.

“Unfortunately we got all side-tracked with the aero configurations and settings here and so I kind of got sideways on that, but hopefully we will get to Sebring and that will all get changed.”

James Newbold (@James_Newbold) is a UK-based freelance motorsport journalist. A graduate of Politics and International Relations, James is also the editor of Autosport Performance.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. ops30

    January 30, 2017 at 8:35 am

    “… having only completed 11 continuous laps prior to the race.”

    I had to read that part twice to make sure I read it right.

    What an incredible performance for this team.

    This car has some serious downforce, as evidenced by lack of front dive planes in the pic above to increase straight line speed at Daytone.

    Should be a contender starting at Sebring with all of its sweeping turns.

  2. Mark Twain

    January 30, 2017 at 9:12 am

    I expect most cars to figure it out by Sebring

  3. Bjones

    January 30, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Surprised you say, what about the engine used is the one engine teams have been bouncing around the state as a mule motor. Remember their motor sucked an foreign object ( or part that did not stay were is was suppose to be) during warm up on Monday, and they had to run across the state to get the mule motor back from Rebellion. You think Riley is happy, what about Gibson and all those WEC teams watching to see how many of these motors last and how long. Well I think it went well for those two. Not much to say about Xtrac and Cosworth. Congratulations to the Fils guys and saying “Job well done” just does not seem appropriate enough.

  4. Jake

    January 30, 2017 at 9:56 am

    I’d like to know why everyone considers it as fact that the bop was in Cadillac’s performance. In qualifying, the gibson powered Orecas were not all that far off. The teams that struggled most were Riley and Nissan and Mazda. Mazda was faster in the test days than they ever were this weekend, what happened? They recieved no changes in bop between the test and race. The others were arguably not even prepared enough to compete in the race. Who shows up to a 24 hour race with a car that had never gone a dozen laps in a stint?

    What Im getting at, is Cadillac had tested thousands and thousands of miles. The pace they showed at Daytona was their penultimate pace, the best they could ever achieve. While the others all seem to have been scraping enough together just to get to the race. Both Nissan and Riley admitted to having little to no setup work being done bdfore the race. And hell, before Hartley lost it in 40 degree wet weather, they were damn fast as well. The other teams seem to have a lot of pace left to find, while Cadillac are running at the pace they knew they had.

    • bjones

      January 30, 2017 at 10:11 am

      Well Said, but I believe Most people have a problem with the 2-3 second gain between the roar and the race. I agree Caddy has been working hard but I am going to raise my eyebrows also.

    • Pierce

      January 30, 2017 at 10:51 am

      I beg to differ the Cadillacs got down to the low 1:36.2 range within the race. The best Gibson chassis was still a second off the pace with a proven car (oreca 05 to 07). The top speeds are all good but it is also worth noting the Cadillac had a wing angle change raceweek due to a typo in the BoP

    • slow

      January 30, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Because the Cadillac went over 7 tenths faster weaving threw traffic during the race than they did in qualifying????

      Putting them over a second faster than what the Gibson was able to do in qualifying trim while the Cadillac was in race trim.

      The gibson (and everyone else) in race trim were a good 1.9 secs off what the Cadillac was capable of.

      How on earth do you not see that as an BOP advantage is beyond me.

  5. Gone

    January 30, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Geez is that car just ugly as hell , sorry but why the fish bowl cockpit and those headlights. The Cadillac looks better but still that fish bowl look. Sorry just not a fan and DPi wasn’t that great. I was there and enjoyed watching the GTLM and GTD.

  6. Pete Zuhreeyuh

    January 30, 2017 at 10:29 am

    That thing ran like clockwork the whole race and you could see the Cadillacs yarding them, but a podium? Amazing performance by the team.

  7. Nate B

    January 30, 2017 at 10:58 am

    What an amazing result for the team, and the livery and Riley both look outstanding. Definitely a favorite for the 2017 season for me.

  8. rissas dad

    January 30, 2017 at 11:13 am

    Daytona is such a different beast than all the other tracks on the schedule. Its hard to point to BOP and say reign the caddys in with changes but maybe IMSA will. I’m sure they will be pouring over data nonetheless. GTLM seemed pretty balanced outside of the M6 but again its Daytona.

  9. Michele Alboreto

    January 30, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Extremely happy for Troy Flis and his team. I would put a lot of the not having a set-up on Riley Motorsports. Yes, Riley produced a solid car but they (Flis) were very late in receiving their car from North Carolina. It would have been nice to see them get some mileage in before the 24.

    IMO, unless something crazy happened – Cadillac was going to win this race due to IMSA higher ups holding the cards.

  10. Mike S.

    January 30, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    I think the real P2’s and non Caddie DPI will struggle a bit until they get to a smooth course. Caddie putting down that power on the rough circuits is an advantage. Sebring isn’t, Long Beach isn’t I would of said by Laguna Seca but that is in fall now. Shank got P2’s first win at Laguna last year. Its COTA so by then I think that might be the place but there are other factors I guess as well. BoP and weather, lobbying etc.

    • someone

      January 30, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      Uhhh P2’s won Daytona and Sebring last year?

  11. Bob

    January 31, 2017 at 11:24 am

    So, since these guys were fastest in the rain, I guess we know why the extra long rain cautions.
    BOP, dry they were a lot slower than the GM cars. I thought the BOP was to level the the playing field, make the cars as close as possible in speed. Oh, I forgot, the old saying money buys speed deal.

  12. dave henrie

    January 31, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    If I was a WEC or ELMS team that did not have the budget for Le Mans, the high downforce Riley would make A-LOT of sense.

  13. JamieR

    February 2, 2017 at 8:34 am

    Fords go 5 seconds quicker at Le Mans….’not sandbagging, maturation of the race car.’

    Cadillac’s go 2 seconds faster at Daytona….’boo, dodgy BoP, GM IMSA bias etc…’

    Lol

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