2013 SRT Viper GTSR finishes 10th and 12th in American LeMans Series debut

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two vipers and a vette on mid ohio.jpg

This past Saturday brought us the American LeMans Series Mid
Ohio Sports Car Challenge and with it, the introduction of the new 2013 SRT
Viper GTS-R race program.  Unfortunately,
things didn’t go as well for the 2013 Viper GTS-R as they did for the original
Viper GTS-R as the new Viper racers finished 10th and 12th
in the GT Class.

Marc Goossens and Tommy Kendal put the #93 Pennzoil Ultra
SRT Viper GTS-R in the 10th spot in the GT Class (24th
overall) while the #91 Forza Motorsport 4 Viper GTS-R driven by Kumo Wittmer
and Dominic Farnbacher was unable to qualify and had to start at the rear of
the entire field which meant a 32nd spot overall and 13th
in the GT Class.

I was more than a little concerned when I heard that the #91
Forza Motorsport 4 Viper GTS-R ran into engine problems early in the first official
ALMS practice session but during the main event – the #91 team was the stronger
of the two Vipers.  While the Forza Viper
wasn’t able to keep up with the top cars in the GT Class, Wittmer and
Farnbacher finished 111 laps over the course of the 2 hour and 46 minute race,
putting the silver and blue Viper in 10th place in the GT Class and
23rd overall.  Wittmer and
Farnbacher were only 4 laps back of the class winning Corvette ZR1 driven by
series point leaders Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner.

“After 10 years or so of being away and not competing, here
we are in our first race back and we are in the top-10,” said Kumo Wittmer,
driver of the #91 Viper. “We learned so much in this race about everything that
keeps the package together. We’ll keep working at it and we’ll get better, but
we are encouraged by the start.”

Even though the #93 SRT Viper GTS-R driven by Tommy Kendal
and Marc Goossens qualified better than the #91 car (due to the engine problems
with the Forza Viper), the Pennzoil Ultra car ran into some struggles during
the race.  This was punctuated by an
incident late in the race with another car that sent the silver and yellow
Viper GTS-R into a tire barrier.  The #93
team was able to get going again and finish the race with only minor aesthetic
damage but in running 109 laps, Kendal and Goossens had to settle for 12th
place in the GT Class and 25th overall.

We should all keep in mind that when the original Dodge
Viper GTS-R came onto the ALMS scene in the late 1990s, Chrysler had been
working on the Viper platform very openly for years but with the 2013 SRT Viper
GTS-R, the engineers spent less than a year taking the car from the drawing
board to the race track.  Also, the rest
of the drivers in the GT Class of the American LeMans Series have all had
plenty of practice time in their race cars while the four drivers who drove the
pair of Viper’s this past weekend at Mid Ohio have only had a few months to get
ready for their debut.  While many of the
Viper enthusiasts reading this are likely disappointed in the 10th
and 12th place finishes – we can surely expect that the group of
Wittmer, Farnbacher, Goossens and Kendal will continue to improve through the 2012
season as they prepare for a full season and a run at the title in 2013.

The best news for Mopar fans out there hoping to see the
2013 SRT Viper GTS-R rise to the top of the American LeMans Series GT Class –
both Vipers did beat the #3 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.  The 2013 SRT Viper and SRT Viper GTS will go
to battle with the Corvette ZR1 on the open road when the new Vipers begin
arriving later this year and in the first on-track battle between the two – a Corvette
was the big winner but both Vipers managed to best one of their cross town

The 2013 SRT Viper GTS-R teams will be back in action on
August 16th with the beginning of the ALMS Road Race Showcase at
Wisconsin’s Road America Raceway.  The
race itself will be run at 2:30pm, running 4 hours and airing on ESPN2 and

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