Final preparation: the SRT Motorsports team heads to Road America for the SRT Viper GTS-R's second competitive outing.
Having passed its first competitive test two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio, the SRT Motorsports program featuring the SRT Viper GTS-R will undertake a much tougher task this weekend as the team continues to prepare for its full-time return to the American Le Mans Series in 2013.
The #91 Forza Motorsports Viper and the #93 Pennzoil Ultra machine will be tested this weekend with a four-hour event on the challenging 4.048-mile Road America circuit – a race that is 75 minutes longer than the Mid-Ohio race where the Viper GTS-R debuted.
"It's a bit more of an endurance test since it is a four-hour event and there are a lot of things that go into completing a longer distance successfully," said Bill Riley, co-founder of Riley Technologies. "We have been working on some things centered around the drivers. We want to work on doing better in the driver changes, getting them in and out more quickly, and we have done a lot of work on making the drivers more comfortable in the car. The air conditioning needed some work after Mid-Ohio and SRT engineers provided some great insight in helping us reach our goals there."
The ALMS mandates that cars include an air-conditioning system that keeps cabin temperatures below 83 degrees Fahrenheit unless the ambient is higher, in which case the temperature in the cockpit must at least match the outdoor figures. Race day at Mid-Ohio featured 90-degree heat, which put a strain on the driver's stamina and endurance.
In its first outing, the SRT Viper GTS-R held up well throughout the full race distance, scoring a top-ten GT class finish. The race yielded reams of valuable data for the SRT Motorsports team, allowing them to go back to the Riley shop in North Carolina and work on improving the car for the high-speed Road America layout.
"The cars were already very competitive in the handling and braking sections, so the SRT Motorsports team only tweaked these areas a bit and will see modest advances this weekend," said Gary Johnson, Road Racing Manager – SRT Motorsports. "The long straights at Road America could be an issue as we are still working on reducing the drag in the car and improving engine output. Just having more track time with the car will provide additional input on the Viper's reliability and durability."
Road America has always provided a daunting challenge for the ALMS GT cars, and more than one car has gone home in pieces after running afoul of its high-speed corners and hard braking zones. Setting up the Viper GTS-R to meet the demands of Road America has been an interesting challenge for SRT Motorsports engineers.
"I think as an engineer, you are always excited to build a car that can get through the Carousel turn at Road America," Riley said. "It's a long, high-speed corner and you are turning for a long time. It's a challenge for us, but our handling at Mid-Ohio was very good and we think that we will have a good package."
Overall, SRT Motorsports was pleased with the Mid-Ohio debut of the Viper GTS-R both on and off the track, and is looking forward to demonstrating its progress at one of the country's hotbeds for sportscar competition.
"We're coming off of a very good debut weekend from Mid-Ohio with just over a week to make some necessary changes to the Viper GTS-R," Johnson said. "Overall, we're looking for another good showing at Road America this weekend. The Viper fan support at Mid-Ohio was amazing and we hope to give them even more exciting racing this Saturday in Elkhart Lake."