Strong finish for SRT® Viper GTS-R in tough Petit Le Mans
The SRT® Motorsports team found out why the Petit Le Mans is one of the most feared endurance events in North America road racing, but the new team of SRT Viper GTS-Rs had more than its share of success on its way to finishing 8th and 13th in the American Le Mans Series GT class.
The #91 Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® SRT Viper GTS-R led 17 laps, pacing the GT field for the first time during the team's shortened debut season, and went on to finish eighth in the race. The team of Dominik Farnbacher, Kuno Wittmer and IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay was one of only four GT cars to run a lap under 80 seconds on the day and finished 369 laps, or more than 937 miles.
"We had highs and lows today, but we learned from all of them and will make our cars better the next time," Farnbacher said. "The car had to last 10 hours. It's the fourth race for the car and we came out and raced to the end. We're very proud of what we've accomplished. I'm very proud of my team. We're all working very hard. We wanted to make it to the finish; that's all we wanted."
The #93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R ended up 13th in the GT class after being sidelined for good on Lap 224 with a shifting problem. The car, driven by Marc Goossens, Tommy Kendall and Jonathan Bomarito, had run as high as third in the early stages of the race, but got off strategy after a Lap 17 pit stop and were working their way back, running competitive laps when the shifting trouble started.
"They say you learn as much or more from your failures as you do from your successes. At least that's what I'm telling myself right now," Kendall said. "The day started out with a lot of promise. We learned a fair amount. We'll go into the off season, take a quick breather, rest up a little bit and get back at it to get ready for Sebring."
Both SRT Viper GTS-Rs were able to get longer stints out of their fuel loads and their Michelin tires, enabling the team to skip a stop at a Lap 66 caution in order to take the lead. Once the #91 was at the front of the pack, Farnbacher paced 17 trips around the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta course, building a lead of more than six seconds before handing the reins to Hunter-Reay.
"I had a lot of fun," Hunter-Reay said. "The team has come a long way in such a short amount of time in probably what is the toughest GT category in the world. I think SRT and the Viper Nation have a lot to look forward to because this team is coming strong. I think they've done an excellent job. It's such a competitive category and we're right there running the same lap times as the leaders."
"I'm very pleased with the progress of the program," said SRT Motorsports Road Racing Manager Gary Johnson. "The SRT Motorsports team has done a great job with improving the car every time it went out. I think we have shown the car has a lot of potential. I'm really looking forward to making some improvements over the down season and coming back really strong for the 2013 season."