Andretti Autosport star Ryan Hunter-Reay expects an “intense” weekend, racing in both IndyCar’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and the Prototype class of the IMSA event.
The 2012 IndyCar champion has been drafted in to race Visit Florida Racing’s Corvette Daytona Prototype in Saturday’s third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Hunter-Reay will sub for Ryan Dalziel, who will be competing for Patron ESM Racing in the World Endurance Championship opener at Silverstone.
Hunter-Reay joined Visit Florida’s full-timers Dalziel and Marc Goossens at the first two IMSA races, the trio finishing third and fifth respectively in the #90 Corvette DP, but this will be the first time since 2009 that he has competed in two motorsport categories in one weekend.
"The last time I did a double was with A.J. Foyt Racing at Homestead, when I was also driving for Level 5 Motorsports,” he commented. “That was different because the IndyCar race was on the oval and the ALMS race was on the road course.
“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 [VFR team owner] Troy Flis who hired me to drive in the endurance races this year. But with Ryan [Dalziel] away, it was cool to get the invite to do one of the short IMSA races. "
Mental discipline required
Hunter-Reay, who won the Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2010 and took pole there in ’14, said that switching back and forth would have pluses and minuses.
“It would be one thing if I hadn't driven a DP car for quite some time, but I've been in both (IndyCar and DP) a lot in the last month. I know the two driving styles of the cars, so that's the easy part.
“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, braking points are different. I'll have to compartmentalize the two styles so they don't get confused.”
With an estimated nine hours of track time across the three days, Hunter-Reay said he will try to ensure that is a benefit rather than a drawback.
“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."