Saturday saw the Viper makes its much-anticipated return to competitive motorsports when SRT Motorsport's Team Viper successfully campaigned its pair of Viper GTS-R cars in the sixth round of the American Le Mans Series at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. What did success look like? Far from a podium finish, Team Viper was pleased just to have both cars finish the race, and was pleasantly surprised to have one crack the top ten.

The two cars fielded were the No. 91 Forza Motorsports Viper GTS-R (blue/silver) driven by Kuno Wittmer and Dominik Farnbacher and the No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra car (yellow/silver) driven by Marc Gooseens and Tommy Kendall.

We were at the race and watched both Vipers make their debut. While not nearly quick enough yet to threaten the Corvettes, Porsches, BMWs and Ferraris that contend fiercely for the GT Class crown, the Vipers were nonetheless very consistent and Team Viper reports the cars actually got quicker as the race progressed.

While the No. 91 car made it through Mid-Ohio's 15-turn, 2.4-mile course all day without incident, and in fact spent most of its time running down the black-and-gold liveried Lotus Evora of Alex Job Racing, the No. 93 had two incidents, including an off-track excursion in the final minutes of the race. The GT Class was won on Saturday in a thrilling finish by Corvette Racing's Oliver Gavin, who held off the No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in his No. 4 Corvette C6 ZR1 for the race's final 20 minutes.

With the addition of the Viper this year (and the Lotus Evora), the GT Class of ALMS racing has become one of our favorite series to watch, especially in person where the personalities of these cars can be felt thundering in your ears. The Viper's 8.4-liter V10 engine makes a very distinct sound on the track. While not as gutteral as the Corvette's 5.5-liter V8, it's also not as loud as the BMW M3's 4.0-liter V8 nor as shrieky as the Ferrari 458 Italia's 4.5-liter V8 either. It falls somewhere in between the the Corvette and BMW, and could stand to have its volume cranked up a notch. And though the Viper's new design looked the part of a menacing GT car on the track, we hope at some point the cars will be wearing liveries that harken back to the red-and-white-striped Oreca Vipers that dominated early ALMS racing.

The next time Team Viper competes will be at Road America in two weeks.
Show full PR text
TEAM VIPER ACHIEVE GOAL – BOTH CARS FINISH ALMS RACE

LEXINGTON, OHIO (Saturday, Aug. 5, 2012) – SRT Motorsports' Team Viper was candid about its mission in Saturday's American Le Mans Series event at Mid-Ohio. The mission – have both SRT Viper GTS-R race cars running at the finish of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge in the GT class. Mission accomplished.

Team Viper was making its return to the ALMS series. Not only were both cars running at the finish, the performance improved throughout the two-hour, 45-minute timed event. As an added bonus, one of the Viper GTS-Rs had a top-10 finish.

Kuno Wittmer and Dominik Farnbacher finished 10th in the No. 91 Forza Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R while Marc Goossens and Tommy Kendall were 12th in the No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R.

"Our first goal was to get through the race without any major problems," said Gary Johnson, Road Racing Manger – SRT Motorsports. "We accomplished that. In fact, we were making progress throughout the race. The cars were getting better. Today's race gives us an opportunity to know where the issues are and where we need to focus."

Even though both teams reached the primary goal of finishing in the debut, everyone agrees there's plenty of work ahead before the specially-prepared Viper GTS-R race cars, built by Bill Riley and Riley Technologies, take the track at Road America in two weeks.

"It wasn't pretty but both cars finished," said Riley. "We've got a lot to build on. We're about two seconds off where we need to be and that showed in the race. Now we need to build on that and go from there. We were consistent but there are things we have to work on. There are gains to make with the car. We'll keep chipping away on it. I think we'll get about half of the gap taken care of pretty quickly."

Wittmer says there were more positives than just having both cars running at the finish. "We learned so much today as far as driver comfort, car handling, chassis, and motor, everything in the package," he said. "This was a great test. We have to keep working at it but a top 10 is not a bad start."

Farnbacher was pleased he and Wittmer didn't make an on-track mistake. "We didn't make a mistake," he said. "We didn't go off the track. It's a good start for both teams, something to build on for the next race."

Kendall and Goossens had two minor incidents – slight contact with another car early in the race and a trek off course in one of the turns in the final minutes – but the No. 93 continued it consistent pace to the checkered flag.

Kendall said having both cars finish was positive for the day. "Our goal was to run as many laps as we could and finish both cars," he said. "It's a tribute to this group, all the guys on these two cars. We've got plenty to work on. I'm encouraged. I thought our race pace was decent. There's certainly some good take-aways."

Goossens was pleased with the consistency. "We showed we can be consistent," he said. "We had a good solid race, both cars. There's still a lot of work to do. That's normal after your first race."

Race Results
American Le Mans Series
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012

1. Gavin/Milner - Corvette
2. Bergmeister/Long - Porsche
3. Muller/Auberlen - BMW
4. Henzler/Sellers - Porsche
5. Hand/Muller - BMW
6. Sharp/van Overbeek - Ferrari
7. Neiman/Holzer - Porsche
8. Brown/Cosmo - Ferrari
9. Miller/Maassen - Porsche
10. WITTMER/FARNBACHER - SRT Viper GTS-R
11. Sweedler/Bell - Lotus
12. GOOSSENS/KENDALL - SRT Viper GTS-R
13. Magnussen/Garcia - Corvette


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 27 Comments
      Shahul X
      • 2 Years Ago
      That new viper may be the most menacing car I've seen in years... I love the 458 and aventador too but while those seem technical and pretty, this new viper is just mean. I want
      Malou H
      • 2 Years Ago
      u should cover alms like you do f1 not just the vipers cause they are back.
      MAX
      • 2 Years Ago
      What a difference 3 years can make. In 2009 who would have thought Chrysler would be racing a new Viper! 3 years ago who would have thought there would be such a thing as a Dodge Dart Global RallyCross race car. The running dogs bark but the Grand Caravan moves on, with an improving Viper race car platform now in the mix.
      SteveM
      • 2 Years Ago
      Malou is right, I'm desperate for more coverage of the ALMS series and the Rolex series.
        fuzzyfish6
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SteveM
        Me too, I love ALMS. Definitely the most entertaining racing series right now.
        djpatrick35
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SteveM
        Right on! We need proper ALMS coverage from somewhere. Heck, ESPN2 butchers the races by running them for only two hours dropping you in midway through and they'll end the broadcast if the races don't end in the allotted time for poker, fishing or whatever the hell other "sport" they have on! A least the Rolex series gets proper race coverage from Speed TV thanks to its affiliation with NASCAR. Gimme more sportscar racing news!!!
      phoenix_AE
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hmm... if Autoblog needs an ALMS correspondent, I know of one with 10 years experience who may be available. Email me directly.
      bytor42
      • 2 Years Ago
      I was at that race and the Vipers looked great and made a great appearance. The crowd really watched them closely and there was quite a buzz. . But .....the Compuware Corvettes and the Cadillac CTS's SOUNDED amazing and finished great. When trying to describe the sound those cars made, Thor's hammer' comes to mind.....every time those cars went by it made the hairs on the back of your head stand up. Very cool!
        SteveM
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bytor42
        Agreed - Saw the Vette's at Lime Rock - recorded it actually. It is an amazingly muscular sound. Quite distinct from the other cars.
      VIPER94
      • 2 Years Ago
      Correction: 8.0 liter. it had to be downsized for the regulations. Amazing car. One day it'll be the king of the podium, just like the original GTS-R did all those years back. Corvette's winnings are numbered.
        VIPER94
        • 2 Years Ago
        @VIPER94
        I understand your confusion Blakkar. And you're right, the limit is 5.5L. But they made an exception for the Viper (you never give a Viper anything smaller than 8.0L). They made a compromise at 8.0L and a huge reduction in horsepower. The GTS-R only makes 480hp.
      Bill Burke
      • 2 Years Ago
      Looks like Chrysler management, with support from the Fiat group, is taking a more serious and agressive approach to racing. The Dodge Avenger NHRA Pro Stock cars are winning regularly and the new Dart just won it's first race. Dodge is more than competitive in NASCAR, but Penske, the only Dodge owner for now, is going to Ford in 2013. That means Dodge needs a couple of top shelf NASCAR teams and more work for Viper next year. I'd bet that with the support of management, both challanges will be met in 2013. Is it too late for Penske to get back to Dodge? What other NASCAR teams will go to Dodge in 2013? Does Dodge/SRT have a mid-size "super coupe" in the works for Drag Racing? Place your bets.
      richard gear
      • 2 Years Ago
      AT - Phoenix AE. NO - You do not go to a race to test, and to finish wherever, you go to win. That is amateurish armchair comments, from someone who does not know how professional Motorsports works and how much money is invested. Testing is where you go to iron out the weak spots as you inarticulately put it. Evidently Viper had tested extensively at Mid Ohio and should at least have run middle order especially with Goosens. To be lapped so easily by Corvette is frankly embarrassing. If you have a problem in the race that puts you out of contention, then yes you turn it into a test session, but you don't go to a race to test/train, just to show up with this amount of money on the line ! ! If this is the thinking on the Viper team it is going to be a costly, ineffective exercise in frustration ! You also don't go to a race to train the team, and this is going to be a problem with Riley. They have never run anything higher that a Daytona Prototype and this is 10X in order of complexity in both engineering, politics, and race strategy.
        fuzzyfish6
        • 2 Years Ago
        @richard gear
        So, you expect a program that started from scratch less than 6 months ago with no cars, no drivers, no builder, no team, to compete with full established teams for the race lead in the very first race? Are you serious? I am a bit disappointed by their pace in Mid Ohio, but I also know not to expect much if anything until next season, if they're lucky. I'd be very interested to see how they run compare to the Evora by Petit Le Mans.
          dan1malk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @fuzzyfish6
          Fish is right, Corvette racing did the same mid season start when they changed clases. The corvettes did get a win that season though ;)
        Joe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @richard gear
        Your ignorance is glaring. Having been involved in professional racing for many years, I can absolutely guarantee you NO ONE goes into their first race expecting to win. Even the giants like Audi or Ferrari don’t expect to compete to win. They, at best, hope to compete (even if they do win from time to time in their first race). Most teams in their first outing use it a real-world test to learn about their cars/teams/drivers in a real race scenario. All the private testing in the world is still not the same as running in race conditions. Audi never expects to win Sebring or Spa when they debut a car. Those races are purely testing grounds for Le Mans. They openly admit as much every time. The fact you spew what you do here clearly shows to anyone who knows anything about racing that you have no clue what the hell you’re talking about.
        richard gear
        • 2 Years Ago
        @richard gear
        To Joe and Fish: You are dangerously misinformed and shows that you have no idea of professional Motorsports. If you don't believe that Audi and Peurgeot don't go to Sebring or Spa to win then you have drunk the PR Kool Aid and magazine journalistic spin. No body said to win, that is your rhetoric, but considering that the viper engine is 8.0 liter and the rest of the field is capped at 5.5 liter, then a middle order finish should have been expected and no less. That is a 31% cc advantage. I am afraid you two must be Chrysler staffers and devoid of any knowledge of top class Motorsports No Audi does not go to any race to test or train- WRONG..
          fuzzyfish6
          • 2 Years Ago
          @richard gear
          I'm absolutely positive you're trolling at this point lol, Good one. And if for some crazy reason you're actually serious, please tell us who you are and your qualifications since you like to tell people how much you know. BTW: "No body said to win, that is your rhetoric" O RLY? "NO - You do not go to a race to test, and to finish wherever, you go to win."
        richard gear
        • 2 Years Ago
        @richard gear
        Fish - tell me your not a Chrysler employee and works on Viper ? Your love-fest, without objectivity is nauseating to say the least. Bet you go to bed at night and mommy comes and tucks you into your little wooden Viper bed. I know, lets settle this by a drag race. I can pick an 8.0 Liter engine vehicle, and you can pick a 5.5 Liter, - that sounds fair to me by your logic, and I wonder who would win.....duhhhh
          Donny Hoover
          • 2 Years Ago
          @richard gear
          Fuzzyfish, Not defending richard gear and his ridiculous comments but I believe the McLaren F1 absolutely slaughtered everything, including prototype race cars in its debut year. The Z32 300ZX was also pretty dominant, although I'm not sure about winning its very first race and I'm too lazy to look it up. Either way, it has and can be done. Oh, I forgot about the GT-40 at LeMans and the ond Shelby AC Cobra. Admittedly, all of those cars involved some sort of insane technological advancement or unique formula that set them apart from all the rest. These Vipers, while cool, are not a part of that same elite club.
          fuzzyfish6
          • 2 Years Ago
          @richard gear
          BTW, educate me a little here. Tell me several instances where a brand new racing team wins immediately from their first race onward that compete in a competitive racing series. Please do enlighten me. Thanks!
          fuzzyfish6
          • 2 Years Ago
          @richard gear
          Hi Donny, Don't get me wrong, I understand that not every racing program in history start out "slow" per say (hence I said several instances). Just trying to make a point that situations like the McLaren and GT40 are extremely rare and the whole notion that all new racing programs "go to win" from the first race on is absolutely idiotic.
      richard gear
      • 2 Years Ago
      A great big $$$$$ show with Tents, semi's and 30+ members of the team, with PR/TV support running around not doing much and not much to report on, coming in last and close to last. Not what my buddies and I were expecting when we came up from Columbus to see them. Only reason it was going quick at all was tires, but the car looked lumbering and massive. Nice Hollywood show though. Engine blew in practice not a good sign as engines were always good before. Corvette lapped them twice. To get them competitive bet that will be asking for opening up engine air restrictors ......not good. A lot of work needed to be competitive at Le Mans...scary considering the money involved...hope Sergio continues to make a profit...money isn't always a guarantee of success, but where and how it is spent is more important, not on shiny trucks etc....
        threefortyduster
        • 2 Years Ago
        @richard gear
        Those shiny trucks you talk about make Chrysler a LOT of profit to fund that whole racing thing. Gotta remember the money has to come from somewhere, and trucks have the biggest profit margin of any vehicle anyone sells. So yes, Chrysler, Ford, and GM will put a lot of money into their shiny trucks because those shiny trucks pay off greatly and allow them to have fun racing.
        phoenix_AE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @richard gear
        SRT Team Viper's first time in competition, and both cars finished. The goal in your first outing (or your first few, really) is not to compete for the lead - it's to run a complete race and find your weak spots. Obviously there's some engine R&D work, some brake and tire work, and who knows what else they're poring over today with the reams of data acquired in yesterday's race. Most data from the old Viper teams would be useless now, since very little of the old car was carried over to the new one. Both cars finished the race. That's not a bad first time out.
          msspamrefuge
          • 2 Years Ago
          @phoenix_AE
          "Most data from the old Viper teams would be useless now, since very little of the old car was carried over to the new one." I'd think that the presence of different parties would also be a bit of a factor. Chrysler has been shuffled several times over since the Oreca days, and Riley Technologies is SRT's primary partner rather than Oreca (or the now-defunct Reynard). Hardly a downgrade considering that the former is the 'successor' of Riley and Scott, still, wouldn't this being the first time they've worked on the Viper mean they're starting completely from scratch compared to Oreca, which went as far as to try and get the previous-generation car up to GT1 par via the Competition Coupe?
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