By Patrick Rall
This past weekend, the two 2013 SRT Viper GTS-R teams hit
the pavement of Road Atlanta for the American LeMans Series Petit Le Mans –
marking the end of the new Viper race program’s inaugural season. Unfortunately, with finishes of 8th
and 13th in the GT Class of 13 cars, the Petit Le Mans didn’t end up
a whole lot better than the other races in which the new Viper GTS-R teams have
participated but there were some important bright spots at the teams prepare
for a full 2013 ALMS season.
During the week-long practice session and into qualifying, with
both the #93 Pennzoil Ultra 2013 SRT Viper GTS-R and the #91 Breast Cancer
Deadline 2020 Viper GTS-R running in the middle of the 13 car GT Class
field. Once qualifying was completed, Marc
Goossens had put the #93 Viper in the 6th starting spot while the
#91 Viper driven by Dominik Farnbacher qualified in the 10th
position. Unfortunately, due to the fact
that the #91 Viper GTS-R team did not meet the minimum required number of laps during
the final evening practice, they were in violation of the qualifying rules –
forcing the #91 to start at the back of the field. Fortunately, the #02 Ferrari F458 Italia team
failed to past the post qualifying tech inspection so the #91 Viper got to
start in the 12th place in class; 39th overall in the 42
car field. Due to the penalty handed to
the #02 Ferrari team, the #93 Viper actually started in the 5th spot
in the class and the 23rd overall position.
Early in the race, things were going well as both of the
2013 SRT Viper GTS-R race teams gradually worked their way towards the front of
the field. In fact, on lap 66, the #91 Breast
Cancer Deadline 2020 driven by Dominik Farnbacher took the class lead and held
the position for 17 laps before he dove into the pits for gas, tires and a
driver change. However, as time went on,
the #91 Viper wasn’t able to maintain his class lead, forcing the silver and
blue Viper to settle for an 8th place GT Class finish and 20th
overall. Also, the #91 Viper was also
one of just 4 cars in the GT Class to post a lap time under the 80 second mark
as the charity-sponsored SRT race car finished a total of 369 laps…6 laps
behind class-winning Ferrari #01.
Things didn’t go quite so well for the #93 SRT Viper GTS-R
as transmission problems put the faster of the two qualifying Vipers in and out
of the pits all day. The Viper driven by
Tommy Kendall, Marc Goossens and Jason Bomarito completed just 170 laps along
with being on the track for only 7 hours and 50 minutes (the other Viper was on
the track for 9 hours and 38 minutes).
The result was a disappointing last place finish in the GT Class and an
overall spot of 39th in the 42 car field.
The good news is that the 2013 SRT Viper GTS-R teams showed
that they were competitive so as both teams prepare to run a full schedule with
the American LeMans Series in 2013 – the teams and the drivers gained a great
deal of experience for next season.