Baltimore street circuit is next challenge for Viper GTS-Rs
After earning top-10 GT class finishes in each of its first two races upon returning to American Le Mans Series competition, SRT Motorsports will face a new and harrowing challenge with its SRT Viper GTS-Rs this weekend in Baltimore.
The Baltimore Sports Car Challenge Presented by SRT will take place on the Baltimore city streets, where the concrete canyons of Maryland's largest city will make a team pay dearly for even the smallest error.
The first two races of the SRT Viper GTS-R's return were run on sprawling road courses where wide runoff areas protected any wayward cars from heavy impacts. Street races are much less forgiving, although through the first two races the SRT Motorsports team has found the handling and braking on the SRT Vipers to be two of the most competitive features of the new car. Features that should help drivers Kuno Wittmer, Dominik Farnbacher, Tommy Kendall and Marc Goossens keep the SRT Vipers out of harm's way.
The competitive gap between the SRT Motorsports effort and teams that have been competing throughout recent ALMS seasons should be narrowed a bit more this weekend by the fact that the Baltimore Sports Car Challenge Presented by SRT is being held for just the second time. This year's race will feature a new layout as a pair of chicanes have been removed, allowing for better passing zones.
"Last year was a first-year event and there was clearly some learning that came out of that," said ALMS CEO Scott Atherton. "The removal of a chicane that was very controversial (and) made it a very awkward raceway are very positive changes."
Track designers removed chicanes after Turn 5 and after the 12th and final turn on the longest straight on the track. The removal of the chicane after Turn 5 is designed to create a better passing zone by the entrance to pit lane, while the elimination of the chicane after Turn 12 will lengthen the braking zone going into the newly-widened first turn and create better passing opportunities.
The #91 Forza Motorsport and #93 Pennzoil Ultra Viper GTS-Rs will be further showcased this weekend as SRT will be the presenting sponsor of this weekend's Baltimore Sports Car Challenge Presented by SRT.
"Baltimore's inner harbor is a beautiful backdrop for world-class racing on Labor Day weekend," said Beth Paretta, Director of Marketing and Operations - SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC. "We're excited to showcase our performance portfolio of SRT vehicles to a discerning crowd of motorsport enthusiasts and the Baltimore Grand Prix is the perfect location. We're also proud to be competing in the American Le Mans Series again with our new Viper GTS-R team and we look forward to seeing all of our fans in Baltimore."
Being a street race, this weekend's event will not feature the two-hour Thursday test session that teams enjoyed at Mid-Ohio and Road America, as practice will start Friday morning at 10:50 a.m. Qualifying will take place at 5:10 p.m. on Friday while Saturday's two-hour race - which is the shortest that the ALMS will run this year - will begin at 4:30 p.m.