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European Le Mans Series

Rayhall Targeting ELMS, IMSA Opportunities for 2016

After two good tests, Sean Rayhall might have busy 2016 season…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

After a year of driving seemingly anything and everything on four wheels, with various teams in various series, Sean Rayhall may have a more specifically targeted program for 2016 in both Europe and North America.

The 20-year-old Georgian has recently completed two tests, one aboard the Onroak Automotive-built Ligier JS P3 and a second in the DeltaWing DWC13 coupe, as he looks ahead to a potential dual season in the European Le Mans Series and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Neither program is finalized for him at the moment, but things are looking optimistic for the Gold-rated driver once the calendar flips to January.

Rayhall got a last-minute call a little over a week ago from Onroak to test the new Ligier at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona for his first run in the JS P3.

It goes along with other prototypes he’s tested and raced, including the Ligier JS P2 (testing) and the Oreca FLM09 (racing), but he came away thoroughly impressed.

“It was a really last minute call Sunday, and I had to be on a plane Monday,” Rayhall told Sportscar365. “I got called from someone at Ligier, and wanted to see what I thought about the car and see how I did.

“The Ligier was an amazing car, and great to drive. We were on pace immediately.”

Rayhall said the car would work very well in North America, although given the extension of the PC class lifespan, it’s unclear if or how the LMP3 platform could make it here. Still, he said it is a great car for gentlemen drivers.

“This car is where the pro-am prototype racing could go in the States,” he said. “It’s very drivable, and it’s something where the gentlemen drivers – the Silvers and Bronzes – can adapt and make themselves better, quicker.”

The vision in the car, he said, was also better than expected.

“I’ve tested the JS P2 earlier this year as well and the DeltaWing, and the vision in the LMP3 is the best,” he said. “You can actually see, and because of where and how you sit, you can almost see better than the GT3 car. The position and the window is laid out well.”

If a program is finalized for ELMS, it’s likely it would be with one of its customer teams.

“The test was to see what I thought about the car and what I’m about,” Rayhall said. “Obviously when you think of prototype racing, Ligier is the pinnacle right now.

“We ended up getting a shot and by the end of test, we were talking to teams about a possible place for me in ELMS.”

Meanwhile back in the U.S., Rayhall also got a last-minute call to test the DeltaWing at Daytona for the two-day November test. It brought him together with team manager Tim Keene nearly a year after they first touched base.

“The car handles pretty well. It’s a give and take,” Rayhall explained. “You don’t make as much downforce as a DP but you’re lighter, more nimble.

“There’s certain corners you can push the envelope. The apex is a bit slower, but once it’s pointed, there’s great traction off. It’s a car you can get up on the wheel, unlike the LMPC car, where it’s no real feeling on the steering wheel.

“It’s designed so well, being so lightweight, you don’t feel a ton of weight transfer. Doing transitions with footwork, and it stays pretty neutral. It nicely complements the design Dr. Panoz and DeltaWing have come up with.”

Thus far the DeltaWing team has only finalized its plans for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The team is working towards a full-season return beyond Daytona, and will need to replace Memo Rojas in the driver lineup.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to NBCSports.com and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony

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