Detroit Mich. (3 June 2017) – A race that seemed to set the stage for a strong VISIT FLORIDA Racing outing unfortunately ended early on Saturday in Round 5 of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
After setting the fastest lap in qualifying but having the grid set by points following a shortened session, the No. 90 VISITFLORIDA Racing Gibson-powered Riley/Multimatic was started by Renger van der Zande, who was set to share the car with Marc Goossens.
Starting from seventh, the VISIT FLORIDA machine emerged unscathed from a hectic start to the 100-minute race.
The initial stages of the race saw van der Zande dicing with fellow Prototypes while maneuvering between constant traffic through the tight confines of the temporary street circuit. van der Zande was setting a good pace which could have ended with a noteworthy result as he looked to go three for three for victories in Detroit.
Unfortunately, his run ended on Lap 19 when he was hit hard by the No. 75 GTD class machine which had suffered a mechanical failure, ending the day for the No. 90 Gibson-Riley.
“I am very disappointed because we had the second fastest lap of the race and we were doing awesome,” said van der Zande of his run. “The car was running really nicely and it was great for me to start off the race. I was just waiting to pick up some more positions before handing the car over to Marc (Goossens). But before I could do that I got hit from another car who just lost his brakes and he slammed into the side of me. That just isn’t what we need at the moment. The VISIT FLORIDA guys are going to bring the car back to the shop and start repairing it.”
The 2017 season has been a trial by fire for the WEC-spec P2 machine, which has fought through development issues in its first season of competition.
The Detroit weekend, short as it was, marked another positive step for VISITFLORIDA Racing with the new machine, which only added to the disappointment of being knocked out early.
“For the first time this year we started to work on performance and lap times and now there is a lot of energy spent on repairing the car,” said van der Zande. “It’s very unfortunate but we will keep our heads down and get working until the next race.”
“This has been a tough season and we were all looking forward to this weekend because we thought this might be a place where we’d be in a good spot with this car,” said team owner Troy Flis. “And qualifying showed that yesterday even though we didn’t get to hold on to the pole position. But we kept chipping away at it and were hoping to fight through to a potentially good finish today. It is far from ideal but we’ll see if we can keep making progress and come back after it at the Glen.”
VISIT FLORIDA Racing is looking forward to the next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen, June 29-July 2.