Over the years, the Dodge Viper SRT® GTS-R shared many similarities with its street car counterpart. The goal of GT class racing has always been for the race car to resemble the production car, including overall vehicle design and aesthetics. Under the hood there was always a number of similarities between the race car and production car, including use of the same block and cylinder heads. When lined up side-by-side, the Viper GTS-R race car and the Viper production car always looked very much alike.
The design of the most recent iteration of the Viper GTS-R used many of the guiding principles that were vital in the creation of the fifth-generation production version of the Dodge Viper SRT®. The initial morph and build of the race car took place in about six months, beginning in the fall of 2011, followed by the unveiling of the machine at the New York Auto Show in April 2012. On-track testing followed with adjustments made to the overall design and construction of the vehicle.
The most recent generation of the Viper GTS-R race car and Viper production car utilized the exact same engine block and cylinder heads per the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GTLM class regulations. By way of series rules, the engine for the Viper GTS-R was heavily restricted to help aid in equalizing the playing field on the track and thus components and systems were designed to help the race engine attain its optimal performance while meeting the regulations set forth.
Handling and suspension have always been vital components of both the Viper GTS-R and the Viper production car. Both were fitted with coil-over shocks, with the racing shocks having a four-way adjustable damper. Similar forged wheels were also used on both, with the racing wheels checking in at two-three pounds less in weight to aid in on-track performance.
Brembo® supplied brakes for both the Viper GTS-R race car and the production version of the Viper. Many similarities existed between the brakes on the GTS-R and the production Viper, with the Viper GTS-R braking system designed for endurance racing and to withstand the rigors of 10-12-hour events.
Testing was used to acquire data and information that was utilized to make adjustments and improvements on the race car during its development, and during past racing seasons. Testing was typically done in a non-race setting where the team split its time between on-track sessions and the pit and paddock areas, where they made adjustments on the car, and poured over telemetry and data acquisition in the process. Test sessions were extremely valuable to team engineers and crew chiefs as they looked to acquire data that would make the car even quicker and gain precious miles per hour and tenths-of-seconds on the track.
Testing was conducted at race circuits, usually venues that were part of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule, both prior to and during the season. Leading up to the 2014 campaign, the Viper Team took to the track for testing at Daytona International Speedway in Florida, site of the season opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Aero was strictly legislated and regulated in the GTLM class in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, though a number of areas did lend themselves to aerodynamic refinements. One important feature was the rear wing of the Viper GTS-R, which helped in overall downforce. Cooling ducts were a vital part of moving air around the car played a role in reducing drag and adding downforce. The front fascia and splitter were moved forward to aid in aero effects as the race car passed through the air at high rates of speed.
One of the keys to success in road racing throughout the years has always been durable and reliable high-performance brakes. Brembo® provided the entire braking system for the Viper GTS-R, with each component carefully constructed and machined to endure the rigors of endurance racing, while helping to save overall weight on the race car. An extensive system of cooling ducts provided air to keep the brakes cool and reduced fade and other fatigue on the system.
The suspension of the Viper GTS-R race car was completely unique from its production counterpart in part due to its width. The Viper GTS-R checked in at 205 centimeters wide, with the front and rear each widened six inches. Michelin were the tires of choice for the Viper GTS-R, and the team joined forces with Motegi Racing as its official wheel partner.
The cockpit of the Viper GTS-R was designed first and foremost for driver safety. The Viper GTS-R was outfitted with the latest safety systems from Sabelt, along with a Racetech seat. All of the electronics used for data acquisition as well as communication were housed in the cockpit. By way of TUDOR Championship rules, air conditioning also had to be functional and meet a designated temperature in the cockpit during races. Insulation played a large role in that function.
Sabelt, a long-time partner of the Viper Team, provided most of the race gear that was utilized by the drivers and pit crew members, including uniforms, gloves and shoes. Each driver had the liberty to create their own design and look to their helmet. Each helmet had to be FIA-approved and Snell-approved for safety requirements. Race gear was designed in regards to safety, especially from fire and also to provide functionality for the driver.