For Elliott Skeer, the goal has always been Le Mans. The 21-year-old took the next step toward his dream in January when he and co-driver Robin Liddell scored a third place finish in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ST class at the season-opening BMW Performance 200 in Rebel Rock Racing’s Porsche Cayman.
After a career spent in single-make competition, culminating in a dominant run to the 2015 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama title in which he won five times in 16 starts and claimed 10 pole positions, Skeer’s Daytona debut represented the start of what he hopes will be the next stage of his racing career.
“I want to become an endurance racing driver. That’s where my heart is,” Skeer told Sportscar365. “All of my racing up to this point has been in spec series where everyone is in the same stuff.
“You all have the same cornering speed, you all have the same braking capabilities. Now you’re going down the back straight and a Honda blows by you and a Mazda is going to brake deeper than anyone into the corner. So it’s a really fun dynamic.”
Daytona marked Skeer’s second start, and second pole, in Continental Tire Challenge dating back to a 2014 start at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The Daytona pole came in monsoon conditions and at a track on which he had only turned a handful of laps previously at the Roar Before the 24 test session.
Skeer said that his experience racing in the rain en route to his GT3 Cup Challenge championship helped provide a frame of reference.
“The 911 is an amazing car in the wet with the engine in the back,” he said. “The Cayman brings on the same characteristics, just not quite as extreme with it being mid-engined.
“The balance of the Cayman is so neutral. The same philosophies that apply in the wet work in the 911 and the Cayman, so the more time you have in it the more comfortable you’re going to be.”
Although the team was pleased with the result at Daytona, Skeer is only confirmed with Rebel Rock through the second round of the championship at Sebring.
He noted that both driver and team are looking to expand on the program.
For an aspiring endurance racer, having a co-driver of Liddell’s caliber and experience has helped to ease the transition from single-make, single-class racing.
The Scotsman proved a handy resource at Daytona for everything from learning the track, to pit stops, to racecraft, and Skeer’s appreciation was as genuine as it was effusive.
“I’ve been doing sprint races all the way up until now through my career,” he said.
“I’ve learned more in one week with him than I have in years of doing little endurance races here and there, club level stuff. It’s really an honor to be working with him.”
While the team’s Cayman program does not enjoy factory support from Stuttgart or Porsche North America, Skeer acknowledged that he is keen to build on his relationship with the marque following a memorable 2015 that saw him compete at the Porsche International Cup Shootout.
“I’ve grown up since literally day-one as a Porsche kid,” he said. “That’s the brand that I’ve always dreamed of driving for.
“Something like last year was just such a cool experience being the North American kid to be a part of the [Porsche] Young Driver Academy, to go to the International Shootout.
“It was a taste of what I wanted in a racing career, and it really helped motivate me to really get that extra gear and go get it all done.”
While there are many series in which aspiring endurance drivers can hone their craft, Skeer was adamant that Continental Tire Challenge was the best place for someone with an eye on top-level IMSA competition, and eventually Le Mans, to be.
“I grew up very young as a fan of Formula One, as a lot of us did,” he said. “I quickly saw Le Mans and realized when I woke up the next morning that it was the same race going on, and I thought that was the coolest thing ever. And I still do!
“I think Continental [Tire SportsCar Challenge] is a great entry point into that. The one pit stop, the two drivers.
“It’s the most basic form of endurance racing that you can find. And from there, I’ll see if I can get into the [WeatherTech Championship] paddock and see what I can make happen for next year and beyond.”