While having announced the purchase of a Riley Mk. 30 LMP2 car, Ben Keating has revealed that his 2017 racing plans have not yet been finalized, and could even include a return to the GT Daytona ranks.
The Texan, who is in the final year of racing the Dodge Viper GT3-R, has downplayed reports that he’s been confirmed for a full season Prototype effort in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“There are a lot of reports that are not correct,” Keating told Sportscar365. “I bought a LMP2 car and there’s lots of options for next year.
“I can run in GTD, I can run the P car. The easiest way to win a championship would be in PC.
“It’s not set in stone and I’m not ready to make any kind of announcement yet. But it’s frustrating when other people have it all figured it out in their mind.”
Keating said he purchased the Riley LMP2 car with the focus around a planned four-year program at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
While ACO rules require that car and team to be entered in a full-season championship to be eligible for an invite, Keating is hopeful of gaining an entry via IMSA’s two auto-invites, one of which will be awarded to the Truman Cup winner in 2017.
It’s not yet determined how IMSA’s invites will be awarded for next year’s race, as they have previously been “at large” selections by the sanctioning body.
The ViperExchange.com owner said he’s ruled out running the Riley LMP2 car in the ELMS or WEC next year.
On the WeatherTech Championship side, Keating has been previously linked to a factory supported Mercedes-AMG GT3 program, which could debut as early as this year’s Petit Le Mans.
While not confirming or denying the reports, Keating said any decision on 2017 beyond their Le Mans intentions have not been made and could even hinge on possible changes made to the GTD class.
“The rules may be different next year than this year,” he said. “There’s been all this discussion over driver ratings and what’s going to happen for GTD next year.
“It’s a little hard to make a decision on what I want to do.”
The one thing that’s certain is Keating’s co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen, who will return for a fourth consecutive season, and will be part of the initial development of his Riley LMP2 car as well.
As for the rest of the program, Keating said the speculation won’t get in his way of finalizing his plans.
“Some of them may be right, some of them may be wrong,” he said. “Regardless of that, I enjoy having the freedom to make my own choice on what I’ll be doing.
“When we’re ready to make the announcement, we’ll make the announcement. Until then, we’ll keep everybody guessing.”