Visit Florida Racing team owner Troy Flis says they’re using the final three Prototype races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season to evaluate the Ligier JS P217 Gibson package before making a final decision on its 2018 chassis choice.
Renger van der Zande and Marc Goossens will debut the LMP2 contender in this weekend’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America after struggling in the first two-thirds of the season with a Riley Mk. 30 Gibson.
While having leased the car from Onroak Automotive, Flis is hopeful of its toe-in-the-water experience leading to a long-term relationship with the French constructor in the years to come.
“I think we have a great opportunity to see what the Ligier is like,” Flis told Sportscar365. “Hopefully we’ll start the relationship now.
“I’m very excited to get going with them and see what everything is. It still give us the option to do something else if we wanted to.
“But right now, I think if we have a good run and can keep building the program, we will. I think they’re a great company.”
Despite having evaluated multiple LMP2 options for the remainder of the season, Flis admitted car availability played a factor in its decision of going with the Ligier.
The chassis, which was used in the 24 Hours of Le Mans by the OAK Racing-supported Eurasia squad, arrived at Onroak’s North American headquarters in Denver N.C. last week, prior to a shakedown with both van der Zande and Goossens at Autobahn Country Club in Joilet, Ill. on Tuesday.
“Some of it was the availability and also the relationship,” Flis said. “For our team and the support we need, we wanted a relationship. We have that with the Crawford’s [Onroak North America General Manager, Max].
“That was a big thing for me, to be able to work with somebody [of their caliber]. They’ve pulled through big time for us.”
With strong runs by the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports squad, which has campaigned a Ligier since the start of the season, Flis is optimistic about their potential for the rest of the year but is keeping realistic expectations for Sunday’s first outing.
“I think it’s a very competitive piece,” he said. “We wanted to see how it is. But I don’t foresee it being someone that isn’t capable of performing at the top level.
“We rather start learning the car now for next year if we could. We would look at what we’re doing for next year, if we’re buying a car or whatnot, and start with our own car. But they’ve been great with this one.
“Now it’s just going out there and learning the car and trying to tune on it this weekend.
“So we’re trying to keep it very basic this weekend. We’re running with a lot of their support and a lot of their knowledge to see what we need to do. I think it leads us into a good partner for next year if it all works out.”