Memo Gidley said his first laps in a Porsche 911 RSR-19 “felt great” ahead of a possible debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with WeatherTech Racing.
The 50-year-old Californian, who successfully made a return to racing several years ago following serious injuries sustained the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona, received a last-minute call-up to turn laps in the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche during Sunday’s Prologue at Sebring International Raceway.
Gidley completed a total of 14 laps in the morning session, recording a best lap time of 2:01.511, which was on par with other fellow Bronze-rated drivers in the official FIA World Endurance Championship test.
While having previous experience in Porsche’s 911 GT3 R, it marked Gidley’s first taste of the German manufacturer’s GTE contender.
“The hardest thing when you jump in last minute is knowing what buttons to push so you can get out of pit lane,” he told Sportscar365.
“The slow down procedure when there’s a yellow flag, all of that is new to me.
“That was the most difficult. But once you’re in the car and you’re driving, it’s so simple that way. It felt great.
“It’s definitely the best GT car I’ve driven for sure.
“I’m just getting used to it and I’m sure when closer to the edge, it’s going to feel a little bit more on edge.”
Gidley was called up by WeatherTech Racing, which is seeking a Bronze-rated driver to join Silver-rated Cooper MacNeil and a to-be-announced Gold/Platinum in the team’s GTE-Am class Porsche entry at Le Mans.
While the test in the Proton-run Porsche has been billed as an evaluation, it’s understood Gidley is one of the leading candidates for the seat.
“It would be awesome,” he said of the prospects of making his Le Mans debut.
“Le Mans is something that I have dreamed about for a long time, especially when I first got into racing. I was racing IndyCars and I wanted to get there.
“It’s just about getting the opportunity to make it happen.
“When you see the racing and the enthusiasm and how popular it is over there… It’s really nice to see that and be in the race delivering that to people as well.
“People really enjoy [Le Mans] and from a driving standpoint too, it looks like an awesome track. Conditions change and there’s probably a lot of stress.
“And that’s what we seem to like as drivers because it makes a win or a good finish that much better.”
When asked if he thought he would potentially get such an opportunity at his point in his career, Gidley said he’s always been prepared for the next race.
“I always tell people, especially new drivers coming up when they’re bummed out they don’t have rides, I always say you never know what’s around the corner,” he said.
“This is just that for sure. A couple of days ago I wasn’t going to be here. Now I’m here. You just never know.
“My whole deal when I’m away from a race weekend is that I’m my go-kart, I’m driving things. I’m in the gym.
“I’m always ready for that last-minute opportunity because I like being out racing and being around people that are involved in it.
“It’s taken a long time but if it happens, it would be awesome.”