SRT Viper GTS-R ready for Green Flag at Mid-Ohio.
The SRT Motorsports program took another big step today in its quest to return full-time to American Le Mans Series competition, participating in its first official qualifying session in the GT class.
The #93 Pennzoil Ultra Viper GTS-R prepared by Riley Technologies put up a best qualifying time of 1:22.158 around the 2.25-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to claim 10th in the highly-competitive GT class. Marc Goossens turned nine laps in his first qualifying stint in the new SRT Motorsports machine, carding his fastest time on his sixth trip around the 13-turn Mid-Ohio layout.
"We are constantly learning with this car since it is such a young program," Goossens said. "Even during the qualifying session we came in and pitted to make a suspension change, just trying to find ways to improve the car. But that is one of the great things about this program; everybody is always looking for ways to make the car better. Nobody is content to sit back and wait to make a change, especially if there is enough time in a session to allow you to benefit from such a change."
The #93 Viper GTS-R joined with its #91 Forza Motorsports stablemate for two hours of practice time leading into qualifying. The #93 machine ran faster times in each of the two practice sessions, then ran its fastest lap of the weekend during qualifying, which is just the way the SRT Motorsports engineers drew it up.
"We're making consistent progress with the car and the testing sessions today really gave us a chance to try some new things," said SRT Motorsports Road Racing Manager Gary Johnson. "We have a pretty good handle on the braking and the shifting response, so that gave us a good platform to be able to make some suspension changes and feel confident in how they will help the car."
The SRT Motorsports team has tried a number of changes on both the #91 and the #93 cars during a warm Friday at Mid-Ohio, and despite the slick conditions, the new Viper GTS-R has proved to be very responsive to what the engineers are throwing at it.
"I've been in cars where you could make really big changes, go really soft or really stiff, and you couldn't feel any difference in performance at all," Goossens said. "That is not the case with this car. The Viper really responds well to everything we try, which is going to really help us out as we continue to get ready for 2013."
The #91 car did not participate in today's qualifying as the team elected to sit the session out after making an engine change late in the morning. The team noticed some engine misses in the opening practice session, which limited the Kuno Wittmer/Dominik Farnbacher entry to just 10 laps.
Investigating further in the short time between the first and second practices, the SRT Motorsports team determined that the best and safest course of action was to change the powerplant and prepare for Saturday's race where they will start at the rear of the pack.
Tomorrow's Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge gets underway at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time from the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The event will be shown on a one-hour tape-delayed basis on ABC beginning at 2:00 p.m. Follow us through Saturday's race on driveSRT.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.