Climbing to the top – Ben Keating, Team Project 1 driver
Back

Climbing to the top – Ben Keating, Team Project 1 driver

24 Hours of Le Mans team members are a mixed bunch, but amateurs and team managers alike have all worked their way up the endurance racing ladder to reach the classic French race. Today, the spotlight is on Ben Keating, driver of the #57 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR.

Team: Team Project 1

Class: LMGTE Am

Car and Drivers:

#57 Porsche 911 RSR driven by Ben Keating, Felipe Fraga and Jeroen Bleekemolen

Background

Ben Keating made his initial foray into motorsport at the Texas World Superway in 2006 at the wheel of a Viper GTS from one of his dealerships. The third-generation car dealer at the head of 15 outlets knows how to sell cars. But racing is a different matter. A track day Christmas gift from his wife set the ball rolling. And he has never looked back.

A Viper aficionado, the entrepreneur runs ViperExchange, a specialist network for the brand, as well as his multi-make dealership. He began his driving career in Viper Racing League before switching to endurance. When the United SportsCar Championship started up in 2014, he entered a Viper GT3-R. “I very quickly fell in love with Endurance racing.  I loved the fact that I got to compare my performance with other drivers in the exact same car, at the exact same time, on the exact same track. I started learning at a much faster pace than I was learning in the sprint races where I was the only one driving."

In 2014, Ben Keating was eager to see how the Viper factory cars performed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. So he attended as a spectator. “I went in with no hotel room, no car, and no plans.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and I loved every minute of it. What a spectacle! It was amazing, and I vowed to try to compete here at some point.”

Achievements

Keating has been a regular competitor in endurance for ten years now. His first major race was the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2011. Since then, he has competed in the Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car Series, the American Le Mans Series and the United SportsCar Championship.

After several class wins in GTD he crossed the line first in LMGTE Am at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year, but the car was disqualified for a breach of fuel tank regulations. One of the most experienced amateur drivers on the grid, Keating is fast and consistent and he knows the circuit inside out. Aside from a non-finish on his first attempt in 2015, he has always seen the race out. An excellent success rate. 

Ambitions

“This year will be my sixth Le Mans and I will have competed in the race in six different cars.” Having driven in LMP2 in 2016 and 2017, in an Oreca 03R and a Riley Mk30, he is back in LMGTE Am for the third year running and aiming for victory. “The strong point for me personally has to be Le Mans 2019, where I was the first privateer to compete in a Ford GT and we won the Le Mans race. This was a highlight of my racing career. Yes, we were disqualified and we are not shown in the record books as the winner. But I know we did not gain an advantage by having 0.4 litres too much fuel capacity when burning 6.5 litres per lap. It was clearly a mistake, but everybody knows that we competed fairly and I believe in my heart that we won, which is all I care about.” All that remains is to do it again.