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Jul 14, 2014 - 04:17 PM
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ViperExchange.com, Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen Score First Victory
Posted by: newsla on Jul 14, 2014 - 04:16 PM
USCR News
ViperExchange.com, Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen Score First Viper GT3-R Victory in IMSA TUDOR Championship


Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen co-drove to the first victory for ViperExchange.com and the Viper GT3-R in the IMSA TUDOR Championship at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park where a thrilling last-lap pass sealed the GT Daytona (GTD) win on Sunday.

 

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Keating led twice in his race-opening driving shift, a season-best performance that set the tone for a winning day.

“It’s been a longtime coming,” Keating said. “We both drove a great race, we had a great car, it’s easy to drive and that’s all you can ask for at this kind of a track. High-speed track, lots of risk, and it was a lot of fun. Hopefully we win on Sunday and sell on Monday at ViperExchange.com.”

Keating handed the No. 33 Viper GT3-R to pole-winning teammate Bleekemolen during the first pit stop. Bleekemolen returned to the race in the top five, made up a few positions, and then had some good luck in traffic as he closed on race-leader Kevin Estre as the white flag flew.

“I got a bit lucky at the end with Kevin Estre,” Bleekemolen said. “He caught a lot of traffic and in one lap he lost like four seconds. I saw it happening, he couldn’t do anything about it, there was like four or five cars overtaking him. I have been there before too but we will take it. It was a great day and it is great to win with this Viper, it is the first win and hopefully not the last, but we are just very happy with it.”

The ViperExchange.com GT3-R team has been competitive all year but overcame a string of setbacks – including a devastating fire at Sebring in March – to finally put all of the pieces together at Mosport.

The Viper GT3-R is built by Riley Technologies that also runs Keating’s ViperExchange.com team under the leadership of Bill Riley.

“We have had a great effort all season with Ben Keating and ViperExchange and it is great to finally see it all pay off,” Riley said. “Everybody has been working hard, we had an issue at Sebring, we didn’t have the Daytona we wanted to have, so now it’s finally clicking and we are finally moving forward.”

The ViperExchange.com win was part of an all-podium Viper day as both GTLM-class GTS-Rs also made it to victory lane with respective second and third-place finishes.

“A win is always helpful for gaining attention for the car and this is a big victory for the car,” said SRT Racing Manager Gary Johnson. “It comes at the right time, the team worked really hard, the pit stops were fantastic and you have to give credit to Ben and Jeroen, they kept the car in one piece and clean and brought it home.”

On top of winning the race from the pole – both first time ViperExchange.com and Viper GT3-R achievements – Bleekemolen also set the fastest GTD-class race lap chasing down the leader in the race’s late stages.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Riley’s ViperExchange.com Team Manager Greg Jones. “Everybody at Riley and Ben Keating, he has always been there for us with Viper Exchange, so it has been really good. This is definitely what we needed for sure. I have known Ben and I have worked with Ben multiple times, and I think that’s probably the best drive I have ever seen him do. He just did solid laps, fought his way back into first, great drive by Ben and Jeroen today.”

ViperExchange.com moves on to compete in the Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, July 25. The event on the 2.534-mile circuit can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 at 7 p.m. EDT.

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