The stage is set for SRT Viper GTS-R's return to ALMS at Mid-Ohio.
The iconic SRT Viper will make its long-awaited return to American Le Mans Series competition this weekend as the new SRT Viper GTS-R visits the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge.
The SRT Motorsports team will roll out a pair of new GTS-R racers for its debut weekend, with Tommy Kendall and Marc Goossens piloting the #93 Pennzoil Ultra machine, while Dominik Farnbacher and Kuno Wittmer share duties in the #91 Forza Motorsports SRT Viper.
"We're thrilled to return to the world-class competition in the American Le Mans Series with our flagship American supercar," said Ralph Gilles, President and CEO – SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC. "The new SRT Viper GTS-R represents a rebirth for us on the race track. It epitomizes the best of what our new SRT performance brand represents and showcases the Viper's natural affinity for road courses. Now the time has finally come to go head-to-head with the best sports car teams from around the world."
The rebirth of the GTS-R after nearly 12 years away from the ALMS has been a meticulously-planned project, but one that has come together quickly in the capable hands of SRT engineers working in conjunction with famed Riley Technologies.
The car was designed and built at the Riley facility in Mooresville, North Carolina, and the team has run a number of successful tests with the GTS-R during the developmental phase of the project. The positive results of the initial tests gave everyone involved the confidence to roll the cars out for a race weekend.
"The decision to make our debut at Mid-Ohio is a result of the progress made with our testing program," said Gary Johnson, Road Racing Manager – SRT Motorsports. "The car has shown steady performance. Each test has met and more often exceeded our expectations."
Bill Riley, who along with his father Bob are the founders of Riley Technologies, agreed that they are at a point with the SRT Viper GTS-R where the only way to learn more about how to improve the race car is to get it some race laps.
"We are very happy with how things have gone, and the fact that we have gotten so much done in such a short amount of time is a reflection of the passion that everyone has for this program," Riley said. "But now we need to get the car on track and see where we stand in relation to the other competitors so we can see what our next steps need to be."
Riley said that the SRT Viper's production platform made for a natural progression to an ALMS GT racer, with the exception of the fuel system. Races are often won and lost on pit lane and Riley reported that the biggest challenge came in fitting a bigger fuel cell in the car, and designing a way to fill the tank quickly.
"The production car has a 60-liter fuel tank, and since we are using E85 fuel, we can use a 110-liter fuel cell in the ALMS car," Riley reported. "This was easily the toughest fuel cell project we have ever done because not only did we have to fit the cell in the car, we had to make it efficient from a weight-distribution standpoint and make sure we could fill the car quickly. It was a challenge, but we found a proper solution."
The Mid-Ohio weekend gets underway Thursday afternoon with a two-hour test session from 3:15 – 5:15 p.m. There are two hour-long practice sessions on Friday leading into the afternoon's qualifying, which begins at 12:25 p.m.
Saturday's race begins at 1:05 p.m. and can be seen on a one-hour tape-delayed basis on ABC, starting at 2:00 p.m. EST. Stay with driveSRT.com for inside coverage of the Viper GTS-R return to racing. Be sure to check in with us all weekend on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.