GA MEMBERS: Ben Keating racing at Petit Lemans!

JonB

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Check Our this press release:

Monday, September 26, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Inquires
CALL NARRA 817 829 4893
USGTC driver Ben Keating to race at
Petit Le Mans.
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Ben Keating (middle) celebrates his recent USGTC win at Texas.
This week he will be looking to spray champagne on top of the
ALMS Petit Le Mans podium. © NARRA

Dodge Viper Cup points leader, US GT Championship regular and NARRA board member, Ben Keating will compete in the ten hour long Petit Le Mans event this week for the very first time.

Keating will drive the #68 Porsche GT3 fielded by The Racers Group, in the GT-Challenge class in the American Le Mans Series event, with Dion Von Moltke and Jim Norman.

Earlier this month Keating won Sunday's US GT Championship race at Texas World Speedway in dominant fashion, after also winning the Dodge Viper Cup race.

He currently leads the Dodge Viper Cup championship (442 points) over Jeff Courtney (410 points) heading into the the series decider at Daytona International Raceway.

The event- the North American Road Racing Association's 2011 Finals Weekend, October 21-23- will also feature the US GT Championship, open to all production based 'GT' styled cars, the Whelen US TimeTrial Championship and the US Performance Driver Education program.

As Keating was preparing for the week long Petit Le Mans event we asked him a few questions.


Q: You've raced with NARRA for quite sometime now, and progressed from a 'DE' student to racer, and then pro-level racer competing in the Dodge Viper Cup and events such as the Daytona 24 Hour. How did you come to race at Petit?

BK: Actually, the Petit race was my 40th birthday present.

Q: What does it mean for you to be competing at such a prestigious event?

BK: I think of the three most premier road races in the USA being Daytona 24, Sebring 12, and Petit Le Mans. I am honored just to have the chance to compete at this level. ALMS brings out the best of the best, from all over the world. Not only do I get to race with these guys, but we have a car and a team that can win the class. This is extremely exciting.

Q: How do you think it will compare to Daytona?
BK: In my own mind, the Daytona 24hr race is the number one top road race in the USA. There is something special about a 24 hour race with 50 years of history. Running at Daytona was unbelievable. I have never experienced Petit, so it is unfair for me to make comparisons. At Daytona, the most important thing is staying out on the track and out of the pits. Speed takes a back seat to survival. I anticipate that the 10 hour race at Petit will be a little more aggressive racing. You must still make it to the end, but it is more difficult to make up lost laps. It becomes more important to stay near the front.

Q: What is it like fielding a car with such a renowned organization like TRG?
BK: TRG runs a great program. They are not cheap, but they are always up front. They won the GTC class last year. I am excited to be running with them. I am not interested in just going around, for the experience of Petit. If I am going to run, then I want the opportunity to win. I think this is what TRG brings to the table.

Q: What are the differences between the ALMS GT-C Porsche and your Dodge Vipers in the US GT Championship and Dodge Viper Cup?
BK: With the Porsche your corner entry and mid corner speed becomes extremely important. Because the engine is sitting over the rear axle, when you throw the car into the corner the rear grips fairly well. The biggest challenge for me is being willing to drive into the corner at the limit of the Porsche, because most of my reference of the limit is in a Viper. The differences are very slight, but they amount to about 2 seconds per lap.
Q: What's your biggest fear?
BK: Traffic. Road Atlanta is very different from Daytona. At Road Atlanta there are no breaks. You are busy all the time. Almost every corner is a high speed corner, and we are competing in the slowest class of cars. When the faster classes get into the heat of a battle they don't wait for a good place to pass you. They just take it, now. The closing rates are crazy fast.

Q: What do you expect it to be like being passed by those super-quick Le Mans Prototypes? The closing speeds will be much higher than with Daytona Prototypes.
BK: Even the DP's [Daytona Prototypes] were amazing fast. I can't even imagine how it is going to be. I am used to being one of the fastest cars on the track [in the USGTC and Dodge Viper Cup]. It will be a huge challenge to handle the role of being a 'moving chicane', as the other classes often refer to us. Road Atlanta does not offer the easy passing zones of the Daytona banking.

Q: What is your goal?
BK: I want to keep the car clean, on the track, and in the race. We have a great team of drivers. We can win our class in the race. It is mostly a matter of protecting the car for my team mates.

Q: We know you're a fixture in the US GT Championship and Dodge Viper Cup, but can we expect to see you at more ALMS events in the future?
BK: I don't know. Maybe Sebring 12 hour. Depends on how Petit goes. Maybe we do such a great job that I have teams begging me to drive for them!



Follow Ben Keating's progress during the ALMS week at facebook.com/NARRAonline .

###​
For more information on NARRA's US GT Championship, Whelen US TimeTrial Championship or US Performance Driver Education program visit NARRAonline.com​
Press contact the NARRA press office via email or call 404 825 2641.

For event registration visit NARRAonline.com or call 817 829 4893.
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Ben Keating is interviewed by the USGTC's Tom Hnatiw at Road Atlanta.
© NARRA.
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Ben Keating on pole position in the Dodge Viper Cup race at Texas World Speedway. © NARRA
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Ben Keating in the USGTC paddock at Sebring. © NARRA
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Keating celebrates at VIR with a
burn-out. © NARRA
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Ben Keating gives the thumbs-up on the grid. © NARRA



All images © NARRA
unless otherwise stated.


CLICK HERE for all NARRA image galleries.
 
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JonB

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Ben K took Fourth!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Inquires
CALL NARRA 817 829 4893
USGTC driver Ben Keating on his first
Petit Le Mans effort.
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Ben Keating on the grid at Petit Le Mans last Saturday.
US GT Championship regular and Dodge Viper Cup points leader Ben Keating has finished fourth in class at the American Le Mans Series' Petit Le Mans event.

It was Keating's first attempt at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, considered one of the world's premier sportscar endurance races.

Keating drove with Dion Von Moltke and Jim Norman in the #68 Porsche GT3 fielded by the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona GT winning team, The Racers Group.

Saturday was an eventful day for the #68 car. The car went behind the pit wall after early contact with the pit-wall.

Then, late in the race, it was involved in the race defining incident when the second placed Audi prototype clipped the front of the #68 Porsche (while Keating was driving) as it tried to pass the leading Peugeot.

Despite the drama, Keating kept his cool, as the team had done all day, and with extremely strong lap times brought the car home for a fantastic 4th place finish in the GTC class.

We spoke with him yesterday to hear his thoughts on his first Petit Le Mans.


Q: Ben, you've now completed your first Petit Le Mans. Describe it in five words or less.

BK: Crazy traffic! Closure rate!

Q: Tell us a little more about that.

BK: Fifty three cars in the race. Six different classes. I am driving a car in the slowest class. This means watching my mirrors at least as much as the road in front of me. We were doing about 100 mph into turn one. The LMP1's were doing 164 into turn one. So, the closure rate was equivalent to our being at a dead stop and them passing by at 64 mph! They were eighteen seconds per lap faster than we were. It was amazing.

Q: You finished just off the podium, fourth in class. A tremendous result, especially after quite a few setbacks during the day. Describe how the race went from your perspective.

BK: While our car had various issues during the race, I was extremely happy with my personal performance. I drove for 2 stints in the car, which was a little over 2 hours in the car. My fast lap of the race was 1:25.9, and the fastest lap by our pro-driver was a 1:25.6. I kept the car on the track. No spins. No flat spotted tires. I did my job about as well as I could have hoped. I was very happy with my performance.

Unfortunately my moment of fame was that I was driving the Porsche that the leading Audi ran into. There was nothing I could do. I was completely molested by the leading cars. This ended up being ABC's 'Move of the Race'.

Q: What was your longest stint? BK: A single stint was 50 laps, which was about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Q: Is it hard to keep your motivation, to churn out lap after lap over such a long time?

BK: No way. The was so much activity on track that your survival instincts keep you extremely motivated.

Q: I'm guessing with that much traffic you never got a clean lap. How did you manage to maintain your pace? Were you looking at sector times or corner speeds?

BK: All you can do is manage what you are given. The leaders got into lap traffic on the second lap of the race. There was never a single clean lap. We did not really look all that much at lap times. It was more about doing the best you can with the hand you are dealt.

Q: And what does it feel like when it's all over. Were you worn out? Was the adrenaline still pumping?

BK: I love the feeling after an endurance race. So much anticipation. I am never wiped out. It is always a laid back positive energy. I can't explain it other than to say that there is still a ton of energy in hours following the race.

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Q: We couldn't help but notice your 'My other car is a Dodge Viper' sign on the side of the TRG Porsche. I'm sure a lot of Viper fans loved that. Do you wish it had been a Viper you were racing, rather than a Porsche?

BK: Of Course! My dream is to race a Viper at that level. Right now, there aren't any Vipers racing in either Grand Am or ALMS. I am hoping that will change over the next couple years with the introduction of the new Viper. I keep telling myself this is just practice and training for winning in a Viper.

Q: Finally, NARRA's 2011 Finals Weekend at Daytona is coming up this month, October 21-23. What's your plans beyond that, and for 2012? More USGTC? More ALMS?

BK: RIght now, my only plans are to run the 50th anniversary of the Daytona 24hr race in January. And to do a full season of the Dodge Viper Cup again in 2012 for ViperExchange.com, with more select appearances in the USGTC. Beyond that, we will just have to see what develops.

###​
For more information on NARRA's US GT Championship, Whelen US TimeTrial Championship or US Performance Driver Education program visit NARRAonline.com​
Press contact the NARRA press office via email or call 404 825 2641.

For event registration visit NARRAonline.com or call 817 829 4893.
You must be registered for see images


You must be registered for see images


You must be registered for see images
You must be registered for see images
Ben Keating is interviewed by the USGTC's Tom Hnatiw at Road Atlanta.
© NARRA.
You must be registered for see images
Ben Keating on pole position in the Dodge Viper Cup race at Texas World Speedway. © NARRA
You must be registered for see images
Ben Keating in the USGTC paddock at Sebring. © NARRA
You must be registered for see images
Keating celebrates at VIR with a
burn-out. © NARRA
You must be registered for see images
Ben Keating gives the thumbs-up on the grid. © NARRA



All images © NARRA
unless otherwise stated.


CLICK HERE for all NARRA image galleries.
 

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