Elkhart Lake, Wisc. (5 August 2017) – VISIT FLORIDA Racing scored its best qualifying position of the year at Road America on Saturday as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship set the grid for Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase which marks Round 8 of the 2017 championship.
Marc Goossens wheeled the No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing Gibson powered Ligier JS P217 to a fourth place starting spot with a fast lap of 1:54.186-seconds. That time was just over a tenth off of the front row of the grid.
The result was a welcome one for the team, who only just took delivery of the Ligier last week. Despite the steep learning curve, VISIT FLORIDA Racing and Onroak have worked together to make rapid progress on the car in just three practice sessions at Road America held ahead of the 15-minute qualifying run Saturday afternoon.
Friday’s first practice session was held in cool and rainy conditions, but the team raised eyebrows by posting the fastest lap of the session in its first-ever official IMSA outing with the Ligier platform. The weather continued to be a factor on Friday, with Saturday featuring warmer temperatures and dry track conditions.
“Yesterday was a difficult day because of the weather conditions but this morning we threw some things at it and the Onroak guys together with the VISIT FLORIDA Racing engineering group have given us a great car,” said Goossens. “It is a matter of being able to touch it first to feel exactly what the car can do and by the time I managed to do that, the tires were no longer at their best. I think a 1:53.8-9 (second lap) would have been possible. We’re on the second row – it’s a big change for the team. I think we have a good race car – we still need to dial it in a little further. But we made quite a few changes – all the small ones together made for one big change. We need to keep tuning it but I think this baseline is pretty good for the race.”
As VISIT FLORIDA Racing continues to learn the ins and outs of the Ligier platform, the team has been pleased with the forward progress.
“It’s a steep learning curve because it’s still brand new to us,” said Renger van der Zande, who will anchor the No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing Ligier JS P217 to the checkered flag in Sunday’s race. “We don’t know what the car needs and wants yet – but we’ve had some great help from Onroak and Ligier. Every time you get in the car you only get a few laps with the limited track time so whenever you’re in the car you’re trying to make the best of it. It’s a different driving style but once you get the grip of it you can feel that it is very good at parts of the track. It is interesting as a driver to learn different ways of working with the car with a different driving style. It’s pretty cool.”
The 2 hour and 40 minute Continental Tire Road Race Showcase will go green at 1:35 PM central time (2:35 PM ET) and will be televised LIVE on FS1 beginning at 1:30 PM CT (2:30 PM ET).