SRT Viper GTS-R set to Return to American Le Mans Series
The 2013 SRT Viper GTS-R will make its first on-track race appearance Aug. 4 at the Mid-Ohio (Lexington, Ohio) Sports Car Course, SRT Motorsports officials announced today.
“We’re thrilled to return to the world-class competition in the American Le Mans Series with our flagship American supercar,” said Ralph Gilles, President and CEO – SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC. “The new SRT Viper GTS-R represents a rebirth for us on the race track. It epitomizes the best of what our new SRT performance brand represents and showcases the Viper’s natural affinity for road courses. Now the time has finally come to go head-to-head with the best sports car teams from around the world.”
SRT Motorsports has partnered with Riley Technologies, based in Mooresville, N.C., on the design-and-build process of the new SRT Viper GTS-R race cars. The team will compete in the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge, a three-hour American Le Mans Series (ALMS) endurance race presented by Tequila Patron.
“Racing has been a significant part of the illustrious history of Viper,” said Beth Paretta, Director of Marketing and Operations – SRT Brand and Motorsports. “Wins on the track, and continued development of our street cars along with our new 2013 SRT Viper models are proof of those lessons learned. Now with our new race team and the launch of the GTS-R, we’re excited and proud to begin writing more chapters in the racing history of the Viper beginning at Mid-Ohio.”
Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series, hailed the return of the SRT Viper to the series as one of 2012’s top announcements.
“I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the significance of the SRT Viper returning to the top level of professional sports car racing,” Atherton said. “The Chrysler Group has a long, storied and very successful history of competing with the American Le Mans Series. The fact that they’re coming back concurrently with the introduction of the new production car and doing it simultaneously, we would be hard-pressed to come up with a better-case scenario. What a great way for the SRT Viper to come back to racing.”
Two identical SRT Viper GTS-R cars will compete in the production-based GT class in the series. The GT class consists of production-based, moderately modified two-wheel-drive race cars. The SRT Viper GTS-R cars will be competing against the Aston Martin Vantage, BMW M3 GT, Corvette C6.R, Ferrari F458 Italia, Lotus Evora and Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The GT class cars share many styling similarities to their showroom brands and by series’ rules must have a minimum weight of 2,745 pounds. The cars produce between 450-500 horsepower with top speeds of up to 180 mph.
More than 30 SRT Motorsports team members were on hand for the most recent track test at Mid-Ohio.
“The decision to make our debut at Mid-Ohio is a result of the progress made with our testing program,” said Gary Johnson, Road Racing Manager – SRT Motorsports. “The car has shown steady performance. Each test has met and more often exceeded our expectations, so we’ll see how things go at Mid-Ohio and then make a decision about the rest of the 2012 season.”
Following the limited schedule this season, the SRT Motorsports team will compete full time in the series in 2013.
Three full-time drivers currently are signed to drive including Dominik Farnbacher, from Ansbach, Germany; Marc Goossens from Geel, Belgium; and Kuno Wittmer from Montreal. Ryan Hunter-Reay from Dallas will join the team for the longer endurance races. Additional driver and team announcements will be forthcoming.
Viper racing heritage
The Viper has enjoyed a successful racing heritage that began in 1996 with the first Dodge Viper racing entry, the original GTS-R, which earned five international GT championships and the 1997-1999 FIA GT championships. It also posted an amazing overall win at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in 2000 – the first for a production-based American car.
Viper finished one-two at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in GTS class in three consecutive years – 1998–2000 – and captured GTS class and driver’s championships in the American Le Mans Series in 1999 along with the Series’ class, manufacturer’s and driver’s championships in 2000 before retiring from the series.
The Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, introduced in 2003, delivered the next chapter of that history with its coupe-shaped carbon/Kevlar body and a track-ready chassis, based on the Dodge Viper SRT10. The Viper Competition Coupe continued the on-track prowess by capturing the 2004 SCCA Speed World Challenge GT title, championships in Formula D Drifting series in 2004 and 2006 and the British GT Championship in 2007 and 2008.
In 2010, the Dodge Viper Cup Series was founded using the limited-edition Dodge Viper ACR-X spec series cars. Now in its third year, the series has been renamed the SRT Viper Cup Series.
About SRT Motorsports
The engineering expertise within SRT extends well beyond our street vehicles. It is a little known fact, but technical support for the Chrysler Group's motorsports program is provided by the astute engineers at SRT. Lessons learned on the track directly translate to improved vehicles for our customers. SRT Motorsports is expanding its racing presence this year and look for more news from pit lane.