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New Team? No Problem: Keating takes LMP2 Pole for the Rolex 24

Ben Keating Celebrates Fifth Straight Rolex 24 Pole (Photo: Jared Bokanoski | The Podium Finish)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Every motorsport seems to have that one driver that every fan can rally behind – IMSA’s is LMP2 and GTP driver Ben Keating.

The 52-year-old Texan has made a name for himself in the sports car racing world by simply being someone who wants to go racing. For the fifth straight year, he is going to lead the LMP2 grid to the green flag to begin North America’s most prestigious sports car race, but it wasn’t without competition.

In a field strengthened by the World Endurance Championship’s decision to eliminate the LMP2 category for events outside of the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, an influx of new competitors brings a new slate of competition into the fold in 2024.

Keating, who will be joined by co-drivers, Nico Pino, Ben Hanley, and McLaren INDYCAR driver Pato O’Ward, in the No. 2 United Autosports Oreca, set a 1:38.501 which would stand as the pole time over his former car of the No. 52 Inter Europol by PR1 Mathiasen piloted by Nick Boulle by just over a tenth of a second. 

However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for Keating throughout the bronze driver exclusive session as a harrowing moment entering the Le Mans Chicane in the early goings. 

Third on the grid for Saturday’s race was last year’s runner up, the No. 04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR machine piloted by 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans, LMP2 Pro-Am winner George Kurtz, whilst LMP3s former dominant force in the No. 74 of Riley Motorsports would land in the fourth position, looking to carry their successes of old into their LMP2 debut. 

Rounding out the top five would be teammate to the pole sitting No. 2, the No. 22 piloted in the session by Daniel Goldburg, right at his heels would be the sixth place qualifier in Steven Thomas for TDS Racing in the No. 11 and team principal of AO Racing and owner of GitHub PJ Hyatt in the fan favorite No. 99 entry compassionately dubbed ‘Spike’ thanks to it’s dragon inspired livery. 

Three cars qualified within the 1:40 bracket from eight to tenth position, those being MDK by High Class Racing’s No. 20, Dragonspeed’s No. 81, and the No. 88 of AF Corse, while the field was rounded out by Era Motorsport’s No. 18 of Dwight Merriman, the lone Ligier competitor of Sean Creech Motorsport’s No. 33, and the No. 8 of Tower Motorsports who are looking for a stronger start to 2024 in comparison to last year’s Rolex 24.


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