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Riley, Keating Evaluating Switch to FIA WEC with Viper GTS-R

Ben Keating evaluating switch to FIA WEC with Viper GTS-R…

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

The Dodge Viper GTS-R could return to full-season competition next year, with Ben Keating and Riley Motorsports evaluating an assault on the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Keating, a regular in IMSA competition, admitted he’s considering making the switch to the globe-trotting series for what will likely be the final year of the car’s eligibility in GTE-Am.

“We’re looking at our options,” Keating told Sportscar365. “It was nice to see a bunch of [the WEC] guys at COTA.

“We already had the plan of hoping to go back to Le Mans. The easiest way to guarantee [that] is to sign up for a full season of WEC.”

The Texan made his Le Mans debut this year in a chassis borrowed from Chrysler, with Keating having since purchased two ex-factory GTS-Rs from the Detroit automaker.

He’s ruled out undertaking dual-season programs, with a decision either on a return to the WeatherTech Championship or a move to the world’s stage full-time still to be made.

“There are a lot of positives and negatives going both ways,” Keating said. “I own these two GT3 cars and I own two GTS-Rs. I’ve got the cars to go and do either.

“WEC has been extremely welcoming. They enjoyed having us at Le Mans and they’ve made it very clear they would love to have us in the series for the full season.”

Bill Riley told Sportscar365 that a WEC GTE-Am program would cost between 20 to 25 percent more than a return to GT Daytona.

However, 2016 will be the final year the current-spec Riley-built Viper will be eligible for GTE competition, due to the arrival of new regulations.

“I think there’s an appeal of going to a lot of tracks we haven’t been to yet,” Riley told Sportscar365. “Obviously to me it’s a lot different type of championship from what we’re used to.

“We’ve done series in America, so we’re pretty much engrained on this continent. It would be nice to throw a curve ball every now and then.

“Each championship is great and [Ben] just has to decide which way to go.”

Keating said he isn’t in a hurry to make a decision, with the Riley squad moving forward on pre-season testing with both GTE and GT3-spec machinery.

“We’ve got testing in November, December and January and at each one of those tests, we’re planning on running both the GTS-R and the GT3-R and doing testing in both of them,” he said. “We’re going to be prepared either way.”

Keating and Riley are the latest American entrants to express interest in the WEC for next year, joining a concreted effort by Wayne Taylor Racing and Larbre Competition to place a Corvette C7.R on the grid in GTE-Pro.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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