Ben Keating says he laments a minor mistake that cost PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports a shot at the LMP2 class win, but takes solace in another podium result in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Keating, who was pulling double duty between the Oreca 07 Gibson and the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, however, impressed in his ironman attempt by turning in a dominant opening stint and setting the fastest race lap in the LMP2 car.
The bid for a class win came apart overnight when a miscue while leading had significant repercussions, forcing him to settle for second. The Riley Mercedes, meanwhile, soldiered home to an 11th place finish in GT Daytona.
“I was in the car, I’m the one that messed up,” Keating told Sportscar365. “We were really having a big battle with the 81 [DragonSpeed] car.
“We had the lead for the majority of the race and Colin Braun was coming up behind me. I was on my second stint on those tires and doing my damndest to stay up in front of him, but we lost one of the two fuel pumps.
“I don’t quite understand exactly how it works but you have to hit the power reset button and I got up on the banking.
“I’m not as familiar with it as obviously I should have been, but I looked down, found it, looked up, and the banking was coming right there.
“I accidentally brushed the banking, and while those P2s are incredibly sturdy, it’s not made to take a sidewise hit.”
The brush with the wall damaged the right-side tie rods, resulting in repairs made on pit lane that cost the car nearly three laps and the class lead.
“Unfortunately there weren’t enough yellow flags for us to get those back,” Keating said.
“We were in position several times to get back on the lead lap if a yellow had come out, but it just never happened.
“I’m disappointed that we got second place. We came here to win, and especially knowing that I’m the one that made the mistake, as small as it was, it cost us two laps.
“That was the difference. I’d feel better about second place if it had been a dog fight to the checkered flag and we just didn’t get it, but knowing that we got second because I made the mistake makes it a little hard for me.
“But goll-lee, second place in the 24 Hours of Daytona? That’s still a really good achievement.”
2020 Double Duty “More Difficult” Than in Recent Years
Keating, who made his fifth double-duty attempt in the Rolex 24, said this year’s undertaking was more challenging than in the past.
He cited the higher minimum drive time in today’s regulations, the differences between the two chassis, and the fact he was splitting time between two teams as major hurdles to clear.
Keating logged more than ten hours between the two cars, including five hours and 20 minutes in the LMP2 entry.
“This one was more difficult than any of the ones I’ve done in the past, particularly because it was two different cars with two different teams,” he said.
“So many times it’s all been with Riley.
“I felt really uncomfortable at first because it felt like I was trying to serve two masters and make sure everybody is happy.
“You’ve got teammates, and it’s a tight knit teammate kind of a deal. When they wanted to do something I was always with the other team, either way.
“They were all unbelievably gracious. All the guys on the 74 and all the guys on the 52. It couldn’t have happened any other way.”