Petit Le Mans will challenge Viper GTS-Rs
The SRT® Motorsports team took calculated first steps in the American Le Mans Series GT class in 2012. Two powerful SRT Viper GTS-Rs were entered in three races while the team kept their eyes firmly focused on the beginning of the 2013 campaign.
But the 2013 slate starts with one of the most grueling events in all of road racing in the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. That means if the SRT Motorsports team really intends to be ready for the demands of around-the-clock racing, this weekend's Petit Le Mans 10-hour event at Road Atlanta would be a great litmus test.
"It's almost the perfect next step for us because the season starts with a huge race at Sebring," said former Trans-Am champion Tommy Kendall, who drives the #93 Pennzoil Ultra GTS-R. "So to have experience at doing more than a four-hour race is important. We're looking forward to Road Atlanta. It's a real test of everyone and the cars. I would say it's kind of the perfect next step and a big one."
Top-10 finishes at Mid-Ohio, Baltimore and Road America this year in the maiden voyages for the SRT Vipers not only helped improve reliability on the racetrack, but also aided in building the strength of the team off the track.
"We're now entering phases where we can actually compete for positions," said #91 Forza Motorsports Viper GTS-R pilot Kuno Wittmer. "If we can shoot for a strong top-five finish at Road Atlanta that would be extraordinary. I think we have everything in place to do such things. Number one is the reliability of the SRT product with the Viper. It's shown great reliability in the three races. Second, everybody is working so well together. It's great harmony on the team and that's going to be so important for us at Petit and also for 2013."
The pairings of Wittmer and Dominik Farnbacher in the #91 and Tommy Kendall and Marc Goossens in the #93 will be bolstered by veteran talents for this weekend's event. Current IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay will join the lineup in the #91, while former Toyota Atlantic and current road-racing standout Jonathan Bomarito will aid the effort in the #93 SRT Viper.
"This will be the first race for Ryan and Jonathan," said SRT Motorsports road racing manager Gary Johnson. "They've had some practice in the car before the race but as far as putting a lot of miles on the car, they haven't had that much of an opportunity. This will give them a good chance to get comfortable with the car."
The entire lineup will have ample opportunity to get behind the wheel on the challenging 2.54-mile Road Atlanta layout as official testing begins Wednesday afternoon. Thursday will feature two one-hour practice sessions during the day, followed by a two-hour night session that is mandatory for every driver.
A fourth practice session will take place Friday morning, followed by a qualifying session beginning at 2 p.m. The 15th running of the Petit Le Mans will get underway Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time and can be seen live on ESPN3. A tape-delayed and edited version of the race will be aired Sunday on ABC beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. Join us on driveSRT.com for full race coverage.