Baltimore qualifying has its ups and downs for SRT Viper GTS-Rs.
Only one of the two SRT Motorsports Viper GTS-Rs was able to participate in Friday's qualifying session for the Baltimore Sports Car Challenge Presented by SRT, but that one car was enough to give the team its best qualifying result of the year.
Running in just its third race as the SRT squad continues to prepare for its full-time American Le Mans Series return in 2013, the #93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R qualified ninth after Marc Goossens carded a best lap of 1:33.526 around the 12-turn Baltimore street course.
The #91 Forza Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R ran in Friday's two practice sessions but suffered a big hit in the final minutes of the final session that left it unable to run in the truncated qualifying session. Dominik Farnbacher had just taken over the cockpit of the #91 car and describes what happened.
"We went out on sticker tires and I had two laps to warm up the tires," Farnbacher said. "I was basically on a flyer. I was overtaking a GTC car on the right side going into the right turn. I took a little bit of a different line than before because I was overtaking the GTC car. I think on the inside there was one bump which upset the rear. I lost the rear and I counter-steered. Then I lost it to the other side and the car went basically toward the wall. I could not save it anymore. Just sorry for my team."
SRT Road Racing Manager Gary Johnson continues to evaluate as to whether the #91 car can be fixed in time for Saturday's two-hour race. No final decision had been made as of late Friday as to the fate of the #91 SRT Viper GTS-R, but given the fact that the fledgling program is basically racing in these 2012 events just as test sessions for next year, discretion may be the better part of valor in prepping for Saturday's event.
"The car is pretty well hit on the left-front and it has damage to the frame rail and the left-front suspension," Johnson said. " I think based on that we're probably not going to fix it for this race. We're going to assess it a little bit more and see how deep the damage goes. We're not really racing for a championship. I'm not sure how much sense it would make to work all night to get it back together."
But there is plenty of reason for optimism in the SRT camp as the Goossens/Tommy Kendall car made gains throughout the day and ran its best laps of the weekend during Friday's qualifying session.
"You're never happy unless you're the fastest, of course, but you know we're making steps forward but we're chasing a moving target," Kendall said. "We get excited because we've made a gain and everybody else gains. Maybe we're gaining a little more; we're getting closer to the front. I have to keep reminding myself that seven months ago this thing wasn't even on paper, so a lot of ground has been covered."
The day was a trying one for the Baltimore circuit as the removal of two chicanes made for higher speeds, which created another problem for cars actually jumping some light rail tracks, so one of the chicanes was re-installed. Kendall said that despite the problems, the two-mile course is actually very enjoyable in the SRT Viper GTS-R.
"I haven't been on a street course like this in a long time, so it's fun to be out. They're bumpy and they're rough but it's a really unique challenge that I always really liked," Kendall said. "The train tracks are obviously causing lots of trouble but other than the train tracks, it's actually a really fun course. You've got a lot of things where you've got almost two distinct personalities. The part that's with fresh pavement is pretty nice to drive on. The stuff that's been ground and is all concrete is really pretty rough but I think that adds character. I actually like the challenge of the two. It's fun."