Ben Keating will make the move up to the Prototype class in 2017, having announced Monday the purchase of an all-new Riley Mk. 30 LMP2 car for a targeted IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans effort.
The Texan will team with Jeroen Bleekemolen for a fourth consecutive season, but this time in the P class, after three years of racing Dodge Viper GT3-Rs in the GT Daytona category.
Riley Motorsports is again expected to run the car in the WeatherTech Championship, under the ViperEchange.com banner.
“To say I am comfortable racing a Multimatic Riley-built race car would be an understatement,” Keating said. “We know each other, I know their products and they know what I expect.
“The LMP2 program is definitely a new chapter in my racing career, but I am very excited to be able to do it in a Multimatic Riley-built race car.”
Keating got his first taste of LMP2 racing in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans at the wheel of Murphy Prototype’s Oreca 03R Nissan, finishing 15th in class alongside Bleekemolen and Marc Goossens.
He will now step-up to prototype racing, with the aim of competing at Le Mans, pending invites, for the next three years with the Gibson-engined car.
“We are very excited that Ben has decided to purchase a Riley Mk. 30 for his future racing programs,” Riley Technologies President Bill Riley said.
“It speaks to the experience we have together and the faith he has in our race car designs. This also gives us the chance to continue to work with Ben, in a constructor support role for his LMP2 program, for several more years to come.”
While Keating’s full 2017 program is still being finalized, the team is targeting a full-season WeatherTech Championship program, which would make him eligible for the Jim Trueman Award.
He is the first Pro-Am driver to signal intentions of competing for the award, with the end-of-year winner receiving an automatic invite to the 2018 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Keating said they plan to take part in both IMSA-sanctioned tests at Daytona in November and December.