IMSA Championship Leaders Join Forces for 24 Hours of Le Mans
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

If there’s one driver lineup bringing momentum into this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, it’s that of the No. 43 Keating Motorsports Riley MK30 Gibson.

The all-IMSA trio of Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating and Ricky Taylor will be piloting the only Multimatic/Riley chassis in this weekend’s twice around the clock event, competing alongside 24 other competitors in the LM P2 class.

The triple-threat lineup was announced back in March, but nobody could have imagined the success the three drivers would bring into June.

Keating and Bleekemolen, co-drivers of the No. 33 Riley Motorsports-Team AMG Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, sit atop the GT Daytona (GTD) class standings with two victories in five races, one of which came at another endurance classic, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.

Co-driver Ricky Taylor is on a historic streak of his own in IMSA with younger brother Jordan, who also will be competing on Saturday with Corvette Racing in the GTE Pro class. The Taylors are undefeated in WeatherTech Championship Prototype competition this year, which includes a 24-hour endurance race victory in 2017— the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.

“I know him a little bit from previous years, but I’ve gotten to know him better and better,” Bleekemolen said of his new teammate Taylor. “He’s a great guy obviously and, at the moment, on top of his game. He has a lot of experience with the new LMP cars so that’s really helpful and he’s also a great team player. He’s not there to just try and set the best lap by himself, but he’s looking at the overall picture, which is I think very important for Le Mans.”

Heading into Le Mans, though, the drivers admit the momentum can only go so far.

“It’s completely different over there,” Keating explained. “It’s a different car, it’s a different series, it’s different competitors. Of the five races that have happened so far this year, obviously, Ricky has won all five and we’ve won two, so I definitely feel like there has to be a certain amount of momentum whether it’s success or luck or confidence. I feel like our driver lineup has a lot going for it and I’m really excited about that. As far as how things go over at Le Mans, it’s yet to be seen.”

Taylor, who will be making his fourth start at Le Mans, agrees.

“I believe in momentum and we’ve had a ton of momentum this year on the IMSA side, but Le Mans is such an outlier from anything else around the world,” Taylor said. “It’s not like Daytona. It’s really on its own between how big the track is, the different conditions, and all the top teams coming together to race there so it’s really difficult.”

Keating and Taylor are still seeking their first win at the historic circuit. Bleekemolen, who won at Le Mans in 2008 in the same class he’ll be racing in on Saturday, is more than ready to contribute for his Keating Motorsports teammates.

“It would mean a lot,” Bleekemolen said. “We’ve been together for four years now and we’ve been having a good time having won quite a few races, but we’re still looking for a win at Le Mans. I haven’t been this long with any team in the past before, so we have a really strong connection and we’re having a lot of fun. It would be amazing to score a podium or even a win at Le Mans.”

The 24 Hours of Le Mans begins Saturday, June 17 at 9 a.m. ET.

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