Riley Motorsports and Pfaff Motorsports are among the handful of GT Daytona class teams that have elected to forgo next weekend’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle, in the only standalone WeatherTech Sprint Cup race of the season.
Both teams, along with Moorespeed, have not entered the 100-minute street race as it does not count towards full-season WeatherTech Championship points in GTD, as part of cost savings measures introduced by IMSA.
For Ben Keating, the move to skip Detroit, not only from a budget standpoint but in light of his 24 Hours of Le Mans program, was the “right thing” to do.
Keating and co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen currently sit 14th in the Sprint Cup standings after a trouble-filled race at Mid-Ohio, which served as the Cup’s season-opener earlier this month.
“I have been very actively involved with IMSA as they talked about ways at making a GTD budget less expensive,” Keating told Sportscar365. “You compare this series to other GT3 series around the world, even endurance series, and it’s really expensive.
“I was very interested in saving money but also saving time.
“One of [IMSA]’s solutions was to make Detroit optional. I think we could do really well with our car in the Sprint Cup if I wanted to run for the Sprint Cup.”
The added bonus of skipping Detroit is the fact Keating can concentrate 100 percent on the Le Mans Test Day, where his Keating Motorsports operation is fielding a Ford GT in the GTE-Am class.
Previously, the Texan and longtime co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen would fly from Detroit to Le Mans immediately after the IMSA race to take part in the single-day test.
“I’ve never been to the Saturday drivers meeting for Le Mans, and I’ll have a couple of nights sleep before [the test day in France],” Keating said. “It’s going to save me money by not having to go to Detroit, and I think I’ll have a better Le Mans experience.”
While Detroit was never on Riley’s schedule, Pfaff Motorsports had been undecided on its participation prior to Mid-Ohio and has elected to not take part according to a Porsche spokesperson.
Porsche, however, will still be represented in Detroit, with Park Place Motorsports confirming its Porsche 911 GT3 R entry for Patrick Long and a to-be-announced co-driver.
Meyer Shank Racing will also bring both of its Acura NSX GT3 Evos, following a runner-up finish in Mid-Ohio for Trent Hindman and Mario Farnbacher.
With the returning Lone Star Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Gar Robinson and Lawson Aschenbach, a total of 12 GTD cars are expected to take part alongside DPi machinery in the two-class race on June 1.