By Patrick Rall
After a long hiatus from the famous 24 Hours of LeMans race, the Chrysler Group has announced that the 2013 SRT Viper GTS-R will compete in the oldest active race in the world of endurance racing in the upcoming 2013 running.
The 2013 SRT Viper GTS-R was introduced to the racing world via the 2012 American LeMans Series and while the two teams didn’t storm onto the scene like the original Viper race cars did in the 1990s, the teams gained valuable experience for 2013. The two teams plan to run the entire series in the ALMS GT class beginning with the 12 Hours of Sebring in mid March. The Viper teams should each have three races under their belts from the 2013 ALMS by the time that they head off to LeMans France for the 2013 24 Hours of LeMans on June 22-23.
“Racing is truly a part of the illustrious history of Viper and a proving ground for the SRT brand,” SRT CEO Ralph Gilles said. “Historically the Viper GTS-R has enjoyed great success at Le Mans, so we couldn’t be more excited and proud to accept the challenge to return to France and continue composing the next chapter in the history of Viper racing at such an historic venue.”
The Dodge Viper had incredible success at the 24 Hours of LeMans in the past, finishing in the top two spots of the GTS class each year from 1998 to 2000. Unfortunately, we have already seen that the past may not be the best gauge of how the modern race car will do against the competition after watching the two Viper teams struggle to get anywhere near the podium last year in the ALMS.
Returning to pilot the two SRT Viper GTS-R race cars in 2013 will be Marc Goossens, Tommy Kendall, Kuno Wittmer, Dominik Farnbacher and Jonathan Bomarito with more drivers announced once we get closer to the events in question. Teams competing in the 24 Hours of LeMans typically have three drivers so the SRT teams will need at least one more to fill their driver roster for the 2013 race in France.
One important fact to note was that when the original Dodge Viper GTS-R race program was introduced with a ton of success on the global racing market, the company had been conducting heavy testing prior to the racing debut. However, the 2013 SRT Viper was kept in such secrecy that there was only a very small window of time for the drivers and teams to practice with the cars before they were slamming doors with some of the best sports cars and racers in the world. Now that the SRT Viper GTS-R teams have had months to practice and work with the Riley Technologies, 2013 should be much
better for the teams – and the fans.
Again, the 2013 American LeMans Series begins on March 13th and you can be sure to catch all of the 2013 racing season coverage for the SRT Viper race teams right here on DodgeForum.com.