Many people were caught by surprise when Libra Racing announced their participation in TUDOR United SportsCar Championship November tests with a Radical SR9 powered by a 3.2 liter Ford Ecoboost. The car had not run since Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2012.
The Radical covered more than 80 laps at Sebring and in Daytona with Robbie Kerr and rookie Nicolas De Crem at the wheel. Overall, it was the slowest of the prototype entries.
“We deliberately wanted to play it safe and gain experience,” De Crem told Sportscar365. “There were no major concerns with the car. We did encounter teething issues like a gearbox leakage at Daytona, but otherwise things went smoothly.
“Like most P2 cars, we lacked speed because of unfavorable BoP rules. However, we’re told that in the future we might be allowed to use larger air restrictors, which should definitely increase our pace.
“There are, of course, several other things we need to work on. But, all in all, I think we can improve the pace of the car by at least 1 second per lap.”
It was the 23-year-old Belgian driver’s first experience of both Florida circuits, and while also making his first trip to the U.S. following a career predominately in Europe.
“There were so many firsts for me last week,” he said. “It was my first trip to the U.S., my first time working with an [English-speaking] team, my first time in a prototype after nearly two years, my first time sharing the car with Robbie… So many new things to discover!
“In the end, my lap times were extremely close to the ones of my teammate.”
In the coming weeks, the team plans to work on securing one major sponsor as well as perfecting the car. De Crem will also be staying busy:
“I’m physically preparing for Daytona,” he said. “I’ll be visiting the factory soon to mold my seat and improve my position in the cockpit. Then I need to focus on my mid-term exam, since I’m still studying for an engineering degree.”