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Bronze-rated Keating not interested in racing 'scary' LMDh cars again

Ben Keating, known for trying different cars at Le Mans and Daytona, rules out another outing in an LMDh prototype

#85 JDC/Miller MotorSports Porsche 963: Tijmen van der Helm, Richard Westbrook, Phil Hanson, Ben Keating

#85 JDC/Miller MotorSports Porsche 963: Tijmen van der Helm, Richard Westbrook, Phil Hanson, Ben Keating

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Gentleman driver Ben Keating says he is not interested in racing an LMDh car again after being left “scared” by his first experience at the Daytona 24 Hours this year.

Keating joined JDC-Miller in the flagship GTP class for the opening round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship in January, piloting a customer Porsche 963 LMDh alongside Richard Westbrook, Phil Hanson and Tijmen van der Helm to sixth overall.

The 963 was the latest car that Keating has driven in an illustrious racing career that has seen him try out a wide variety of machinery on both sides of the Atlantic. He is known for trying nine different cars in the last 10 years at the Le Mans 24 Hours, a race where he has two class victories to his name.

But the 52-year-old has ruled out another appearance in the top prototype category in either IMSA or the World Endurance Championship, with his Daytona outing showing him why LMDh vehicles are best left for professional racers.

“I did it in January at Daytona, I drove the Porsche LMDh. I'm glad I checked that box, but I really did not enjoy the experience,” he told Motorsport.com at Le Mans where he raced United Autosport's ORECA-Gibson 07 in LMP2.

“I enjoy pushing my limits, I enjoy feeling like okay the car is capable of much more than I am and I can really push the limits of myself in a race car.

“And the LMDh car, pff! I felt like I'm scared. Every corner, every brake zone.

“Because the cars are heavier than LMP2, because the tyre does not have as much grip as LMP2, it's brake-by-wire so I don't have a good feeling for what is going on with the brakes.

“My only job as a bronze driver driving the LMDh is to not wreck. No one is expecting me to be as fast as all the other people, so I feel like my only job is to not wreck.

#23 United Autosports Oreca 07 Gibson: Ben Keating

#23 United Autosports Oreca 07 Gibson: Ben Keating

Photo by: Nikolaz Godet

“And I would say that in an LMDh car that is a hard job, it's hard not to wreck that car.

“I watch all the Hypercar drivers spinning in qualifying [at Le Mans]. I know what that's like. Those are really good drivers, but that car is really hard to drive.

“I checked that box, I don't need to do that again.”

Keating is now a veteran of 14 Daytona 24 appearances, and on eight of those occasions he was entered in two different categories simultaneously.

This year, for instance, he drove an ORECA in the LMP2 class for United Autosports alongside his JDC-Miller duties with the Porsche 963.

But while he is not interested in returning to the GTP class again, he has not ruled out taking part in two classes simultaneously again.

“I may double duty but probably not in a hypercar,” he said.

This would likely involve combining his LMP2 programme with an appearance in the GTD class reserved for Pro/Am crews. Keating last raced a GT3 car at Daytona in 2021, when he joined TF Sport in an Aston Martin Vantage as an extension of his full-season programme in WEC with the British outfit.

“I did that several years ago, in 2021,” he said. “The problem is it requires about 10 hours of driving which is a lot.”

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