The VISIT FLORIDA Racing Challenger: The Riley/Multimatic

VISIT FLORIDA Racing is in the final preparations for the 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona. With the start of the endurance race so close, here is a rundown of everything you need to know about the Riley/Multimatic Gibson V8 VISIT FLORIDA car. VISIT FLORIDA is the only team running the Riley/Multimatic Gibson V8, meaning that VISIT FLORIDA is the only team competing in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship that can also take their car, with no alterations, to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

As mentioned above, the chassis from the combined design of North American companies Riley Technologies and Multimatic is the only IMSA Prototype chassis that is also eligible to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. VISIT FLORIDA have run the Cadillac Daytona Prototype car up until this year for that very reason: the Daytona-based team wishes to take their car across to Europe to compete in the prestigious race in June.

Multimatic were responsible for the carbon fiber tub, bodywork, and aerodynamics of the Riley/Multimatic, whilst Riley Technologies designed most of the mechanical components of the WEC P2 Mk 30 chassis.

VISIT FLORIDA will be the base of the primary development for the Riley/Multimatic as they are the only team racing this chassis in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and to have signed up for full season entry in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The developments made by the VISIT FLORIDA team will translate to all the LMP2 teams running the Riley/Multimatic in WEC. Mazda, who’s chassis came from the WEC P2 Mk 30 as its DPi counterpart, will be able to help with non-DPi development on the chassis but it will be VISIT FLORIDA who helps make any necessary bodywork and aerodynamic changes.

There were some delays in the development of the Riley/Multimatic as gearbox cooling and front-right suspension issues brought halts to undergoing testing programs. This has lead to Mazda and VISIT FLORIDA suffering delays in their own programs and setting them behind in the Prototype field. The VISIT FLORIDA team was still making adjustments to the internal bodywork of the car only a few hours before getting ready to start the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The chassis clearly needs the developmental work that VISIT FLORIDA have been completing.

Of the three WEC P2 models that have been entered into the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Riley/Multimatic stands out for its highly conventional shape. Riley is well known for keeping their car designs as simple and ‘user-friendly’ as possible for their customers. Because of this philosophy, the Riley/Multimatic WEC P2 Mk 30 has a lot of features that appear to be ‘the standard’.

The Riley/Multimatic has yet to show any class-leading performance in any of the pre-race tests that it has been competing in. Being a brand new car, the teams running the Riley/Multimatic are finding themselves on a steep learning curve. VISIT FLORIDA team owner, Troy Flis, has been racing Prototypes in this field of cars for a lot of years. He has claimed that this year has been one of the most challenging to prepare for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Ahead of the 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona, Speed Chills had the opportunity to talk to the team and drivers just a few hours before the 24-hour endurance gets underway. VISIT FLORIDA’s initial plan was to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona outright, but with the difficulties they have faced with the Riley/Multimatic in the lead up to the race the team is more focused on getting through the 24-hours and hopefully placing their VISIT FLORIDA Racing #90 on the podium. It will take a lot of luck for the VISIT FLORIDA to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona, something the team is very open about admitting. Here is what the team and drivers had to say before the Rolex 24 at Daytona began.

Troy Flis, Team Owner: “We’re going to do the best we can do; my guys are going to do the best they can do. We’ve got a great line up of drivers and that I’m really happy about, I know they’re going to do a great job for today and tomorrow. They’ll keep us out of trouble and make sure to make good decisions; we’re gonna make good decisions in the paddock and in the pits. We’ll work through it. This is a pretty challenging one; I’ve been doing this for a long time and this one has probably been the toughest. All in all, we’re gonna go out there and we want to be on the podium. We’re a Championship team so we’re looking to be in a Championship contention. We are here to win – you don’t get the opportunity to win this race often. I’ve done [this race] a lot – now I want to win it. We’re going to do everything we can to go out there and compete as hard as we can compete.”

Marc Goossens, Driver: “It’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of hard work been put in from the team to get ready for this race and tomorrow’s race. We’ve got brand new cars, it’s new rules and its new for everyone so we’ll have to wait and see what it’s going to be like out there during 24 hours. We’re not just here for this race but here for the whole championship so scoring points is very important for us. The only thing we can do as a driver now is to reward the team for all the hard work they put in… There is a whole group of people out there trying to make the car as good as possible for us. Those guys were machining steering columns for me, as I’m the tallest and I was struggling with my seating position inside the car: I’m talking about something that happened about 20 hours ago. We’re looking forward to finishing with this car 28 hours ahead of us. These guys have been working flat out morning to night, very few hours of sleep and they won’t get any the next night either. From me, it’s worth giving those guys a round of applause. Troy is a real team leader, he’s got a good team of people together. I’ve been doing this for 33 years and I couldn’t be more proud of the team I have now; really professional, working flat out – a small, nice little family all with the same target: winning championships.”

Renger van der Zande, Driver: “I’m always flying in from Holland, Amsterdam to all the races that we go to and it’s pretty cool for me to stand here as a Dutch guy, racing in America, with an American sponsor. Going into the 24 hour race is very cool. It’s been a tough time; we’ve been delayed a little bit with the car due to the Riley development. They had to do a lot on the car. It’s not easy to build a car like that, of course. The crew have been flat out. It’s really good that we’re standing here. It’s not going to be easy, it’s never easy, but it’s one of the best races to go into. If you have a clean day, a clean 24 hours, you might be right up there. Just a little mistake from anyone: the mechanics, the drivers, anything, if someone hits you on track – it’s so easy – and it’s done. To be successful here in the Daytona 24 hour is, it takes a lot. Takes a lot of luck, takes a lot of effort. Very happy to have those two teammates. What can I ask more for? Happy to go, ready to go.”

Rene Rast, Driver: “Good to be here. It’s like a dream come true for me. I have raced here many times but only in the smaller categories. This year is the first time in the highest class, in the prototype class. It’s always been a dream for me to win this race overall and now this year I have the chance and I’m very very happy. Pretty happy to be here, looking forward to the race. We just need a bit of luck, just need to stay out of trouble, and then we have a chance to really be up there on the podium tomorrow.