Making the cut: SRT Viper GTS-Rs qualify for Road America contest.
The SRT Motorsports program qualified for its second event in its return to the American Le Mans Series today, making the most of Thursday testing and Friday practice at Road America to get both its SRT Viper GTS-Rs solidly in the field for tomorrow's four-hour Road America Road Race Showcase.
The #91 Forza Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R of Kuno Wittmer and Domink Farnbacher paced the team with a best time of 2:08.556 (113.358 mph) to qualifying 11th, one spot ahead of the #93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R of Marc Goossens and Tommy Kendall, which checked in with a best time of 2:09.609 (112.437 mph).
"We're closer in qualifying than we were at Mid-Ohio. That's an improvement," Farnbacher said. "We're closer to the front runners. We can be happy with the improvement in the performance of the car so far this weekend. It looks promising for tomorrow's race. Our goals will be as we had at Mid-Ohio – finish the race and continue our development process. There are things we'll continue to improve but the car balance feels very nice. We've made a lot of progress today. I'm convinced we'll have a good race tomorrow."
The SRT Motorsports squad had a pair of one-hour practice sessions to find the fast way around the 4.048-mile Road America circuit before qualifying, taking the opportunity to see the results of the changes the team made to the SRT Vipers the night before.
"We made some significant changes this morning and based on the results, I think we'll continue that direction. It seemed to help the platform of the car quite a bit," said Gary Johnson, Road Racing Manager, SRT Motorsports. "I think every time we go out, we're making progress. Our goal for this event is to keep improving and make sure we're on the right track. Every time we go out, we're going a little faster."
The day was another in a long line of positive steps for the blossoming program, as the team spent another day moving in the right direction in their preparation for its full-time return to ALMS competition in 2013.
"I think everything we tried was kind of a positive because we learned something. Not everything we did produced positive results but with everything we tried, we got a direction," reported Goossens. "If we made a change, went out and it was worse, we knew we had gone the wrong way. The biggest improvement – we changed the setup in a certain direction and kept going that way. That was a plus. Sometimes it's very easy to say we didn't get the results we expected right away, so we go back the other route. We didn't do that today. We kept going in that one direction and that was an improvement."
Tomorrow's four-hour mini-marathon will provide another set of questions as to the readiness level of the SRT Motorsports team – which is why the team chose to run a partial schedule in 2012. Four hours of GT competition at Elkhart Lake is a daunting task even with a full season of preparation, but the team has clear goals for tomorrow's event.
"Tomorrow, the objective in the race first and foremost is to finish – finish with clean results and clean car, pull off a good show and stay extremely competitive," reported Wittmer. "That's always good when you're developing a program. We're getting quicker and quicker. I think it's good for SRT Motorsports and the fans. We're not going in a backward direction."