Following a competitive but winless first half of the season, Marc Goossens feels like Visit Florida Racing is now fully getting up to cruising speed, with the team and drivers settling in a groove.
With a second place finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and third in the Rolex 24 at Daytona as standout results, Goossens currently sits fourth in the Prototype drivers’ championship heading into this weekend’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.
Despite qualifying second for the Belle Isle race in Detroit, the most recent weekend turned out to be one of the more difficult ones.
“It was quite obvious we were missing some speed on the straights, mainly in acceleration,” Goossens told Sportscar365 about the Detroit race.
“The only way for me to keep up was by braking very late, which resulted in me making a mistake and clipping the tire wall.
“Obviously it looked a bit crazy when I went into the next fast corner with no rear wing, but I didn’t realize it at that time.
“It’s a racing situation, you’re driving on the limit, pushing to stay on the tail of the leaders when you don’t have the ideal car underneath you.”
However, looking ahead there are several signs that bodes well this weekend at The Glen, the third round of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup and the start of the second half of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
Visit Florida Racing has won the race the past two years with Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante and is looking to make it three in a row with Goossens and co-driver Ryan Dalziel.
At the same time Goossens was victorious in the GT Daytona category last year, driving a Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R.
“I’m happy to be here,” Goossens said. “We tested here like most of the teams, but we can’t really rely on the data of last year because of the rain, and in 2014 we were on different restrictors and tires.
“It’s good to know we have the right records here and that I won the race last year, but that’s no guarantee for this year.”
The testing proved to be more crucial than usual as teams used it to get up to grips with the repaved track, which should result in a considerable drop in lap times.
“There used to be a lot of concrete and the grip levels changed all the time,” Goossens said.
“You could make more of a difference as a driver with the right experience. Now it has become easier as the level of grip is more or less consistent.”
As a whole, Goossens feels the Troy Flis-led Visit Florida squad and Corvette DP package is now close to reaching it’s full potential, as both the drivers amongst each other and the relationship with the team has been optimized.
“It’s basically that perfect match that we were able to put together,” he said. “We’re making a lot of progress as we get along.
“In the beginning communication was a little bit tougher, because we were all used to our own ways.
“Ryan and I go back a long time. We know each other and have a very similar driving style.
“If I start working towards a certain setup that suits me, I know it will work for him too.
“I could perfectly go away and let him do three days of testing and I know that he’s looking for the same things in the car that I am and the other way around.”
Following the Detroit event, team owner Flis traveled to Le Mans to help decide the team’s 2017 plans, while at the same time Dalziel raced for Tequila Patron ESM and Goossens for Murphy Prototypes in the LMP2 class.
“It was good for Troy Flis and his organization to be there and study how whole that whole Le Mans deal works and getting a behind the scenes look into two teams that are running in the P2 class,” Goossens said.
“We were surprised by the lack of performance of the Oreca 03R at Murphy Prototypes.
“It was bigger than expected, but on the other hand we were looking at a good strong reliable car and we didn’t have that either.
“It was nothing the team could really do something about because it was all electrical. We were unfortunate that we had a similar situation happen to us twice in the same race.”
Looking ahead to 2017, the clock is ticking to make a final decision on the chassis and engine front, and as Goossens pointed out that the pressure is rising to get everything ready in time for Daytona.
“No matter what package, it needs to be developed and tested, so we need to make a decision soon if we want to get the car ready in time,” he said.
“If we decided right now I don’t think the cars will be delivered before the second part of October or early November. Daytona is going to be tight.”