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Monza Crash “Silver Lining” Helped Keating to GTE-Am Pole

Ben Keating benefits from success ballast “silver lining” after his TF Aston Martin’s Monza crash…

Photo: Harry Parvin/Focus Pack Media

Ben Keating suggested that a “silver lining” related to his TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTE’s huge accident at Monza in July contributed to him taking the GTE-Am pole position for the 6 Hours of Fuji.

Keating claimed his third class pole of the FIA World Endurance Championship season in the No. 33 Aston Martin that he shares with Marco Sorensen and Henrique Chaves.

The car at Fuji is one of TF Sport’s European Le Mans Series chassis, which was sent to Japan after the original WEC car was heavily damaged in Chaves’ frightening airborne accident during the Monza race.

Keating proposed that a reduction of success ballast caused by the Monza result helped him to lay down the fastest lap time in Saturday’s 10-minute qualifying session.

TF Sport approached Monza with 40 kg of additional ballast attached to its No. 33 Aston Martin, considering it finished second at the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa (10 kg), won the 24 Hours of Le Mans (15 kg) and was the GTE-Am championship leader (15 kg).

The Fuji success ballast takes into account the points standings, which Keating and Sorensen still lead, plus the last two races at Le Mans and Monza. This means the 10 kg from Spa is replaced by zero ballast due to the retirement from the most recent event.

“I knew it was going to be very tight,” said Keating. “After the win at Le Mans we had a pretty nice buffer leading the championship.

“After the incident at Monza, we saw that shrink down to [four] points.

“As I was sitting in the pit lane, getting ready to go out for qualifying, I was thinking about how much that one point would make a difference in the championship.

“We made a few changes to the car before qualifying and that always makes you a little bit nervous.

“In the GTE-Am category, we have reward weight. You always want to get as many points as you can get, but there’s a silver lining in the Monza incident, that we got to have [10] kg taken off the car.

“Sarah [Bovy], who qualified second, had 10 kg added to the No. 85 car. I think that [weight] difference is probably the difference in the lap times.

“She was really quick at Monza and was really quick again here. It’s a fun battle.”

Despite claiming pole, Keating reckons that the TF Sport Aston Martin could be an even stronger proposition in race trim.

“We think we have a really good, consistent race car,” he said.

“I wasn’t quite sure how we were going to end up in qualifying. I’m very grateful to have done the pole by less than a tenth of a second.

“But I feel very good going forward in the race because we know we have a car that will consistently be quick and competitive.

“I feel like my role in this deal is to just bring the car back to my teammates with all the dive planes in place and no scratches on the bottom of the splitter.

“I’m hoping I’ll just have a nice, clean, consistent run up front.

“If I happen to be in the lead, great. If I happen to be somewhere in the top five, that’s fine. Because I think we’ll be able to race for it in the longer runs with the car.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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