Ryan-Hunter Reay has outlined the challenges he will face at Long Beach this weekend as he prepares to perform IMSA and IndyCar double duty.
The Visit Florida Racing driver is filling in for WEC-tied Ryan Dalziel at the California street circuit, sharing the #90 Corvette Daytona Prototype with Marc Goossens in round three of the IMSA Championship.
That means Hunter-Reay will be involved in two categories of racing as IMSA supports the third event of the 2016 IndyCar season.
“The last time I did a double was with A.J. Foyt at Homestead when I was also driving for Level 5, but that was different because the IndyCar race was on the oval and the ALMS race was on the road course,” explained the Andretti IndyCar driver. “What I’m doing at Long Beach with Andretti Autosport and Visit Florida Racing is on the same track jumping back and forth between sessions. It’s going to be pretty intense.”
“I have to thank Michael Andretti who’s allowing me to do this, and I appreciate [Visit Florida Racing team owner] Troy Flis who hired me to drive in the endurance races this year, but with Ryan Dalziel away with a conflict, it was cool to get the invite to do one of the short IMSA races.”
Although Hunter-Reay has already gained plenty of mileage in the #90 Corvette at Daytona and Sebring, he still feels jumping into a rhythm at Long Beach will be a challenge, considering his dual role.
“I know the two driving styles of the cars, I’ve been driving IndyCars and DPs for a long time, so that’s the easy part,” he explained. “Where it’s hard, regardless of my experience, is finding the last few tenths because they are completely different driving styles. It’s two different grip levels, the turn-in points are different, the braking points are different.”
“I’ll have to compartmentalize the two styles so they don’t get confused. And I’ll have to work the schedule so it optimizes my focus in each car. When I’m in the DP [on] Friday morning, that’s all I need to think about. When I move to my IndyCar, that’s all I need to think about. If I’m trying to worry about both at the same time, that’s where problems would occur.”
“I’m excited to have Ryan Hunter-Reay back again with Marc Goossens,” added Flis. “Between Ryan’s IMSA and IndyCar schedule, he’ll have a lot of track time. He knows the track very well.”
“It’s going to be about good track position, good execution on pit lane, and making good decisions. Passing is difficult at Long Beach so trying to get track position in qualifying and putting yourself in good position in the race with about 45 minutes to go is critical.”
The Visit Florida squad currently sits fifth in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship standings after third and fifth place finishes at Daytona and Sebring. Just four points separate Hunter-Reay and co from series leader Scott Pruett as the teams head into the western swing.
Th 1 hour 40 IMSA minute race is set to begin at 19:05 on Saturday April 16, with the IndyCar Grand Prix starting the following day at 16:30 (both times local).