By Patrick Rall
The modern SRT Viper GTS-R race program made its less-than-triumphant return to the 24 Hours of LeMans race last year and with a strong finish to the 2013 combined with a strong start to the 2014 endurance racing season – many Mopar racing fans expected this to be the year where the Viper would head back to LeMans, beat the Corvettes and maybe even nab a class win. Unfortunately, the Chrysler Group has announced that the Viper Racing program has declined the invitation to race in this year’s 24 Hours of LeMans race, instead focusing on the American racing program as they look to make a bigger splash in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The SRT Viper GTS-R program has looked very good in the first two events this season with nothing but a few mechanical issues standing between the Vipers and victory in 2014. The Viper was clearly the quickest car at the Rolex 24 and even after being slapped with all sorts of power and weight restrictions before Sebring – the teams still had strong showings at the second race of the season. More importantly, the Vipers have beaten the Corvette Racing teams in each of the first two events as late mechanical issues took the Corvettes out of the races in Daytona and Sebring.
The Vipers are strong and the Corvettes are not. This would be the year that the American supercar battle waged on French turf would bring about a Chrysler Group winner – but all of those hopes are dashed as the teams won’t be making the trip the LeMans for the race which is arguably the most important event in the world of endurance racing. From a fan’s perspective, this news completely sucks but perhaps saving the money required to travel to France for the 24 Hours of LeMans race will be better used in helping the Viper GTS-R win a few races and taking a run at the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship for production based vehicles.
The SRT Viper’s will be in action on April 11-12 when they take on the street course of Long Beach California for the 100 minute long shootout. Considering that mechanical issues have prevented the SRT and Corvette Racing teams from winning in Daytona or Sebring, this short race could allow the American supercar atop the podium instead of yet another Porsche. Hopefully, that supercar will be the Viper GTS-R.