Visit Florida Racing optimistic ahead of 12H Sebring

by Daniel Lloyd

Visit Florida Racing enters this weekend’s 12 Hours of Sebring with the intention of improving on its third place finish at the Daytona in January.

The #70 Corvette Daytona Prototype ran well at Daytona despite running into teething problems at the Roar test, finishing on the lead lap after 24 hours of racing.

This weekend the WeatherTech Sportscar circus moves 150 miles down the road to Sebring for the second endurance classic of the year. Visit Florida drivers Ryan Dalziel, Marc Goossens and Ryan Hunter-Reay all have plenty of experience at the 3.7 mile road course, but all are searching for an elusive first overall victory.

In fact, Dalziel and Goossens shared a GT Dodge Viper at Sebring in 2013, while Hunter-Reay and Goossens did the same the following year. Visit Florida Racing’s driver lineup has a total of 19 Sebring starts to date, including two separate class victories for Dalziel and Hunter-Reay.

“I’ve teamed with both Ryans at Sebring before so it’s good to have some experience with your team-mates and we all know what we have between the three of us,” said Goossens. “This type of car at Sebring is new for me. I’ve done this race many times back in the ALMS days and then again with IMSA in GT cars, but never in a DP.”

Goossens and Dalziel were able to gain mileage in a dress rehearsal run at the IMSA pre-race test that took place at the end of February. The pair notched up 89 laps over two days of running, with the Corvette DP running fastest laps in high 1m52s.

Team boss Troy Flis was pleased with his crew’s work during the test and is optimistic that the issues experienced at Daytona will continue to be ironed out at Sebring.

“After the test last month, we learned a lot over those two days so I’m hoping we can keep that going,” he said. “As far as the learning curve of the team with the new people we’ve put in place this year between the drivers and the engineering, I think we’ve advanced a lot in a short period of time. So I’m hoping that the learning curve keeps growing the way that it is. I’m excited, I think we have a good shot at winning the race.”

Hunter-Reay was not present at Sebring because of a clash with the IndyCar test weekend at Phoenix. This was followed by the season opener at St. Petersburg, where he finished on the podium. After coming close at Daytona and St. Pete, Hunter-Reay is looking to go two better at Sebring this weekend:

“Following our podium finish at the Rolex 24, I’m really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the #90 Visit Florida Corvette DP,” he said. “The Sebring 12 hour is one of the highlights of the year for me and it just so happens to be my home race.  Visit Florida Racing had a great test making strides in developing the car’s setup to suit this notoriously bumpy race track.  Marc, Ryan and I all have very similar driving styles which makes the setup process much more efficient.  I’ve been fortunate enough to take home a class victory in this historic event, now we’re all focused on taking home the overall victory.”

The close competition of the P class made the Rolex 24 at Daytona a gripping affair, with the LMP2 Ligier of ESM winning overall. Visit Florida Racing had a relatively quiet run to third, but if the test days are a reliable indication the DPs should be able to draw much closer at round two.

First practice for the 12 Hours of Sebring take place tomorrow (March 17) at 10:00 AM, while the race itself will get underway on Saturday, March 19 at 10:40 AM (both times EST).

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