EVENT: Round 4 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, 2 hour & 40 minute race
DRIVER LINE-UP: Marc Goossens (Belgium), Renger van der Zande (Netherlands)
TEAM EFFORT AFTER LONG BEACH: Over the past three weeks, VISIT FLORIDA Racing has worked relentlessly to rebuild its car after a practice crash in the previous event at Long Beach forced the team to withdraw. The newly rebuilt car was loaded onto the transporter on Friday with plans for a shakedown test ahead of the COTA event.
TEAM HISTORY AT COTA: In four starts at Circuit of the Americas, VISIT FLORIDA Racing’s best finish came in 2013 when Michael Valiante and Richard Westbrook took third in the event. Last year, a broken driveshaft forced the team to make repairs early in the race and then utilize the remaining laps as a test session.
2013 – Started 5th Finished 11th (Ricky Taylor & Richard Westbrook – Corvette DP)
2014 – Started 6th Finished 6th (Michael Valiante & Richard Westbrook – Corvette DP)
2015 – Started 6th Finished 3rd (Michael Valiante & Richard Westbrook – Corvette DP)
2016 – Started 7th Finished 7th (Marc Goossens & Ryan Dalziel – Corvette DP)
DEFENDING RACE CHAMPION VAN DER ZANDE: When Renger van der Zande won at Circuit of the Americas last year while driving in the PC class for Starworks Motorsport, it was his fourth win of the season and with it, he clinched the 2016 IMSA Championship Title.
PODIUM PERFORMANCES AT COTA: Both Renger van der Zande and Marc Goossens have sprayed the champagne at COTA. In addition to his win last year, van der Zande also placed third in 2014. Goossens finished runner-up in the COTA event while driving in the GTD class in 2014.
FROM THE PITBOX – Team Owner Troy Flis: “Our learning curve is very steep right now and we’re just trying to get the new cars to a competitive level. It’s not like our old cars, where we can just take everything off, bolt it on the other car and go again. Now it’s like every part that you take off, you have to second guess it three times and say ‘What can we do to make this part a little better before we put it back on the car so we can try to get a little more speed or reliability out of it?’ We’ll go for the win every single time to help our partners and try to get exposure. It’s very hard to keep your partners and everyone upbeat and to keep your team, your drivers and everybody wanting to run up front, even when you’re not being competitive. Everyone on our team is professional so they all know this is part of the business and part of the industry. For them to get the morale back is when we go back out there and we’re competitive. We have a great blend for the season with what we’re looking to get out of the car with Marc’s (Goossens) knowledge and Renger’s (van der Zande) speed. We’ve got to pick our heads up and on the engineering and management side, we have to give them a product they can win with.”
New in 2017: With all-new regulations for the top Prototype class in 2017, VISIT FLORIDA Racing fields a Gibson-powered Riley Mk. 30. The Gibson engine is a 4.2-liter V8, and is the specification engine for all competitors in the World Endurance Championship LMP2 category. Riley Technologies has an unparalleled history in the sport, and the 2017 Rolex 24 At Daytona marked the competition debut for the Mk. 30.
Chassis – Multimatic / Riley Carbon Fiber semi stressed engine
Safety equipment – Crushable Nose box, 6 point safety harness, Onboard fire suppression system, Air conditioned cockpit for driver safety and comfort.
Transmission – X-Trac six-speed sequential, paddle operated rear wheel drive.
Addition of Michael Harvey: Prior to the 2017 season, VISIT FLORIDA Racing added Michael Harvey to the team as Director of Race Operations. Harvey, who has a long and varied range of experience in the sport, most recently managed the competition efforts for Fall-Line Motorsports’ multiple-championship winning programs in IMSA and SCCA competition as well as serving as a Series Director for the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA series.
New Partners for 2017: In addition to longtime partner VISIT FLORIDA, VISIT FLORIDA Racing has partnered with: Speed Chills, iRacing, Motegi Racing, Riley Technologies, Go Puck, GoPro, Burt & Scheld, Under Armour, and Whelen.
MARC GOOSSENS: “The VISIT FLORIDA Racing team has worked hard since Long Beach to get us a car prepared in a very short time frame. Even though we had very little running in California, the car felt better on the streets of Long Beach, so I think as far as the balance, we made a step forward since Sebring. But now we need to first shake the new car down and hopefully we can carry over our “new” set up into COTA. I personally like COTA. It is more like a new type of track – I usually prefer the old-school tracks – but it has a lot of challenges. Low speed corners, fast speed corners, long straightaways and very nice elevation changes. It’s our first real smooth track since the Rolex 24 so hopefully we have the right set up as we roll off the trailer! We obviously all want and need a good, strong result in Texas. I can’t wait to get on track and see what we have before we go for some Texas barbeque!”
RENGER VAN DER ZANDE: “Circuit of the Americas is a special track for me because we won the championship there last year by winning the race in LMPC. At that time it was really, really hot and very challenging for the car, tires, and drivers. I think it will be a little easier this year in the way of the heat since the race is a little earlier in the year. It’s a very challenging track and a cool race to go back to. I’ve been on the podium most of the times I’ve been there and I won it last year so I hope with the new chassis that we have a chance to compete properly. I’m looking forward to getting back into the LMP2. I’ve been in the GTs for some races now (racing in Europe), so it’s great for me personally to be heading back to COTA and I hope to have a great result.”
Source. Sunday Group