SRT® Viper GTS-Rs moving toward the front
The new SRT® Motorsports American Le Mans Series program is halfway through its first Petit Le Mans race weekend, and for the first time since their return to the GT class, the SRT Viper GTS-Rs are within striking distance of the series' frontrunners.
"We have made huge improvements; I think more than we expected," said Dominik Farnbacher, co-driver of the #91 Forza Motorsports Viper GTS-R. "We've closed the gap to our opponents from the first race to the last race. We are more competitive. The car is just fantastic. I see the potential to follow the 'tire marks' of its older brother – the original GTS-R."
Both Viper GTS-Rs are less than a second off the pace of the class-leading BMW after two practice sessions, with the #93 Pennzoil Ultra Viper GTS-R sitting just .56 seconds behind the two-time series champ. Marc Goossens put up a best lap of 1:20.694 (113.317 mph) around the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta course to lead the SRT Motorsports effort while reigning IZOD Indy Car champion Ryan Hunter-Reay piloted the #91 machine to a best lap of 1:21.011 (112.874 mph).
"I'm really looking forward to further developing the all new Viper GTS-R this weekend in preparation for what will be the new Viper's first endurance race," Hunter-Reay said. "I love the challenge of being involved in the development of a race car and that's what we're constantly doing here. I have a great relationship with the folks at SRT and Riley Technologies, so I feel right at home."
The #91 car was the only one to run in the morning practice, as the course was not yet dry after morning rains, prompting most of the GT class to eschew the chance to get some laps. The Farnbacher/Hunter-Reay/Kuno Wittmer car ran 10 laps and carded the second-best time in the GT class, while the Goossens/Tommy Kendall/Jonathan Bomarito #93 machine sat the session out.
"We're pretty satisfied with where we are in the practice sessions," said SRT Motorsports Road Racing Manager Gary Johnson. "This track has a lot of challenging corners and hard braking zones and we are really letting the car stretch its legs a little bit today."
The team will have another chance today to pick up some more time leading into tomorrow's qualifying session. There will be a two-hour nighttime session beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday that is mandatory for each of the team's six drivers. ALMS rules stipulate that any driver who is going to compete in Saturday's 10-hour event, must participate in tonight's evening practice.
For the SRT Motorsports squad, day or night, any practice session is another chance to find more speed, and to continue to close the gap to the lead pack in what is one of the most competitive classes in American road racing.
"I think we're making pretty big gains and feel like we're starting to get closer to the front and see where we stack up," said Bill Riley, VP and Chief Engineer, Riley Technologies. "Every time we go to the track, we learn more about the car – what it wants and, more importantly, what it doesn't want. We continue to make those subtle changes which get us closer and closer to where we need to be. We've had good reliability with our cars."