By Patrick Rall
This past weekend marked the first time that the modern Viper race teams headed to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to take on the famed Brickyard and for the first time this season – a Viper took home the win in the GT LeMans class. Also, this is obviously the first win for the Viper team since the team cars changed from being the SRT Viper GTS-R to the Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R and the winning #93 car was outfitted in the familiar red and white of the championship Team Oreca Vipers in the late 90s and early 2000s.
In each of the past two races in the Tudor United Sports Car Championship season, Vipers have finished second and third – dominating the podium but still finishing behind a Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. The Corvette Racing program took the GTLM class win in each of the past four races coming into Indy, so the Vipers were looking to break the Corvette streak and continue their streak of podium finishes – and they did so in a big way.
Things started off rough, as the Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R teams were only 7th and 9th quickest after the first round of practice on the Brickyard and the second round of practice was worse, with the two Vipers sitting 8th and 9th in the ten car class field. Fortunately, things got a whole lot better in qualifying, with the #93 Viper piloted by Jonathan Bomarito and Kumo Wittmer grabbing the third spot in the class while the #91 Viper of Marc Goossens and Dominik Farnbacher started in 4th place, right next to their team car.
In the early going, both of the Vipers hounded the Ferrari and Porsche racers that qualified ahead of them, until one of the Prototype cars hit the #91 Viper hard enough to cause the passenger’s side door to fall off. After a quick fix, the 91 car was back on the track, but when Goossens was caught up in a crash late in the race, the white and yellow Viper was forced to settle for the 8th spot in the class, two laps behind their class leading teammate.
For the #93 car, the Indy race was physical but both Wittmer and Bomarito managed to stay out of trouble and stay around the front of the class field. Right before making the final pit stop of the day in the #93 Viper, Bomarito took the GTLM class lead and he would never look back – winning the race by 11 seconds over the second place Ferrari.
Thanks to the big win, Bomarito and Wittmer are just 13 points behind the Corvette drivers who lead the driver’s championship while Goossens and Farnbacher sit 4th in the standings. In the team standings, the SRT Motorsports team is a close second to the Corvette Racing team and in the manufacturer’s championship, the Dodge team is third behind Chevrolet and Porsche.