Ben Keating says he’s undecided on where he will race next year, admitting that he could focus on a reduced schedule in Europe due to business commitments.
The Texan, a longtime IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship entrant, may not return to the series in 2020, at least on a full-time basis, as his and Riley Motorsports’ current three-year contract with Mercedes-AMG comes to an end this season.
Keating gave notice to both team owner Bill Riley and longtime driver Jeroen Bleekemolen this week, indicating that he has currently no confirmed plans in IMSA and expressed both to explore options for 2020.
Speaking to Sportscar365, Keating reiterated that a return to IMSA still remains an option, although has shown interest in other championships, including the European Le Mans Series, potentially utilizing his Ford GT.
“I have explored a bunch of different options for next year,” Keating told Sportscar365. “I worked really hard to put together a WEC season, and that didn’t happen.
“I haven’t met with [Mercedes] AMG for what they are planning to do next year. They just came out with a new Evo themselves, and I’m assuming that they would like to show that car here.
“I still have lots of different options, which has been fun for me.
“The fact is that, especially with all this Le Mans drama, a lot of people have seen my name and know about the situation.
“I’ve had a lot of people talking to me about possibilities for next year, all over the world.”
Keating has expressed his desire of reducing his racing calendar in 2020, after what will be a 14-race season for the successful automotive dealership owner this year.
He said he was denied a full-season WEC entry with his Ford GT for the upcoming 2019-20 season, which he requested following the release of the 33-car entry at Le Mans.
Instead, an option remains open to run the car in the ELMS next year, or potentially explore a different GTE brand.
“If I were going to run a Ford, it would clearly take support from the manufacturer in many ways,” Keating said. “I think they would like to see that, but we haven’t worked out all the details of what that would look like.
“I have talked to other manufacturers and it’s a similar situation, in terms of there being a whole lot of details to work out, and nobody’s there yet.
“I have looked at WEC, I have looked at ELMS, I have looked at IMSA.”
Keating admitted he has “even less confidence” that the Ford GT would get a “fair shake” with BoP given the automaker’s announcement on Thursday that it would be closing factories and laying off 12,000 workers in Europe.
He said he has meetings at this weekend’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, as well as the upcoming IMSA rounds next month to help determine his racing future.
Keating’s Le Mans Return in Question
Keating has slightly backtracked on his desire to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, amid his car’s disqualification from the GTE-Am class win earlier this month.
He said his emotions continue to change “day after day” with a decision not yet taken.
“My first reaction to all the drama at Le Mans has been that I want to go back,” he said. “I know that that wasn’t a fluke. I know that we can do it again and I want to go back and do it again.
“But there have been an absurd number of conspiracy theories, and I will say that there are some really convincing ones out there.
“It doesn’t do any good to talk about ‘what if’ or to be paranoid that somebody’s out to get you.
“But it’s a big financial commitment and a big time commitment.
“I’m a guy that gets very emotionally invested in my season and whatever I do, I want to know that I am competing on a level playing field and that I’m getting a fair shake.
“There’s no reason to think that I wouldn’t get that anywhere and everywhere, but you’ve still got to ask the question.”