"Heroic" Keating to thank for Project 1 Bahrain win
A "heroic" triple stint from Ben Keating was the basis for Project 1 Racing's FIA World Endurance Championship victory in Bahrain, says Jeroen Bleekemolen.
The #57 Porsche 911 RSR shared by Keating, Bleekemolen and Larry ten Voorde - making a second WEC appearance standing in for the absent Felipe Fraga - romped to GTE Am honours in the extra-points race on Saturday, leading 182 out of 233 laps.
Bronze-rated Keating took the start from pole and stayed in the car for three full stints, putting the team on a diverging pit schedule to its class rivals and ultimately saving it a pitstop.
That meant the American and his teammates finished 37 seconds clear of the factory Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Paul Dalla Lana, Ross Gunn and Darren Turner in second.
Reflecting on his first WEC win, Keating said: "I did not expect it for sure. But with the additional points in the longer race, this was an important one for us.
"We had the whole strategy worked out, where we would get my 2 hours 20 minutes [minimum driving time] done, but that gave us a need to do a stop with 15 minutes to go.
"We didn’t get any of the full-course yellows in the first couple of hours that we expected. We only needed one and it didn’t happen, it kind of changed our strategy.
"I ended up doing a triple stint in the beginning. It was nice to be up front and not fighting a bunch of other GTE Am cars. That enabled us to eliminate a stop. We were the only car in GTE Am that did it in seven stops and that ended up being the difference in the race.
"It didn’t happen the way we expected it to, but very nice to be up front in the end."
Asked for his thoughts on how the race unfolded, Bleekemolen said that he felt Keating "didn’t do himself justice" with his description of how victory came about.
"He did a really heroic drive," added the Dutchman. "[He drove] three hours, none of the other drivers in the whole race did that today. And he handed the car off near the front.
"That really set us up, it saved us a pitstop, because all the other bronze drivers were getting out of the car way sooner and they couldn’t make it on fuel.
"So basically that’s what gave us this nice gap. All we had to do was stay out of trouble and not give the gap away. It set up our race."
#57 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR: Ben Keating, Larry ten Voorde, Jeroen Bleekemolen
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
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