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Keating, Riley Exploring 2017 GTD Options

Ben Keating, Riley Motorsports exploring GTD options for 2017…

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

The days of the Dodge Viper GT3-R in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship appear to be numbered, with Ben Keating and Riley Motorsports exploring a move to a new GT Daytona manufacturer for next year.

Keating, who has spearheaded the ViperExchange.com-backed, Riley-run Viper team for the past three seasons, confirmed plans to continue with Bill Riley’s organization but with a new car, and potentially new class.

“We’re looking at different GT programs and PC is also an option,” Keating told Sportscar365. “I won’t be in a Viper, I’m pretty confident of that as it all depends on the manufacturer partnering side of things.”

The Texan, who owns the world’s No. 1 volume Viper dealership, put up “a big portion” of IMSA’s required financial and marketing commitment for GTD manufacturers to race this year.

“With the current BoP challenges of the Viper, I’m not very excited to make that big investment again,” Keating said.

Instead, Keating and Riley said they’re in talks with multiple GTD manufacturers on prospective 2017 programs, although would not elaborate on any details.

Multiple reports have linked Riley to Mercedes-Benz, both on the DPi and GTD front, with AMG Customer Sports coordinator Thomas Jaeger on-site at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park this weekend.

Honda Performance Development VP Steve Eriksen, meanwhile, was in discussions with IMSA teams last weekend at Watkins Glen, on a possible factory supported Acura NSX GT3 program for GTD.

It’s believed there are other manufacturers also in the pipeline for GTD for 2017, while Riley could also link-up with an existing program as well.

“We all have Viper roots but if another program came up for a different GT3 car, we’re definitely entertaining other options right now,” Riley told Sportscar365.

Keating added: “There are some interesting programs looking to enter and there are some interesting programs that currently exist.”

Keating said a move to the Prototype class, with the new Riley-Multimatic LMP2 car, is not an option for next year, due to the lack of a Pro-Am component in the top class.

However, things could change for 2018, with IMSA expected to introduce a Pro-Am P2 subclass as a replacement to Prototype Challenge.

“I’d love to hop in a Riley LMP2 and do that deal,” he said. “If IMSA had a Pro-Am class in Prototype, that would be really interesting.

“But they’re committed to PC next year. For next year, I don’t know yet, for 2018, I don’t know yet.

“The good news is that there’s a lot of good options. Whether it’s me as a driver or me as a guy with some money or Riley as a team, there are lots of people that want to race their cars.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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