Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens drove the No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R to victory in the GT Class Sunday at Road America, the first factory-backed American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron win for the Viper since 2000.
It was the 17th factory-backed victory for SRT Viper in ALMS competition (16 victories from 1999-2000). The last victory came December 31, 2000 in Adelaide, Australia. The Vipers posted a 1-2 finish led by Karl Wendlinger/Dominique Dupy followed by Jean-Philippe Belbc and Ni Amorium.
“Winning at Road America is not only a victory for Team SRT, it’s also a win for the entire SRT Brand and the Viper,” said Ralph Gilles, President and Chief Executive Officer – (SRT) Street and Racing Technology Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC. “We are very proud of the performance delivered by our drivers and the crew. I am truly humbled by the hard work and dedication given by Team SRT this entire season. Thank you for all the support of our extended Chrysler Family.”
Goossens drove the No. 91 Viper past Antonio Garcia’s Corvette with 33 minutes remaining in the 2:45 event and was never challenged. However, there was plenty of nail biting in the SRT Motorsports pit over the final eight minutes of the race. Fuel was an issue. The No. 91 along with the rest of the top five in the running order were low on fuel and would have to make a final pit stop for a splash under green-flag conditions. Just as the 91 was ready to make that stop, the caution appeared. That’s all Goossens needed as he had just enough fuel to complete two more circuits around the 4.048-mile circuit at reduced speed for the win.
“The last five minutes were a nail biter,” said Beth Paretta — Director of Marketing and Operations, SRT Brand and Motorsports. “We had different strategies for the two cars and it was going to come down if we had a yellow or not. We got the yellow, so that determined the outcome with the 91 getting the win. I’m so happy for SRT Motorsports and the SRT brand. It’s been one year; this is our birthday, so happy birthday to SRT Motorsports. This is a great way to celebrate.
“At the beginning of the season, we thought one car might be stronger than the other but now, week-to-week, it could be either one that is stronger. SRT Motorsports is one team with two cars. It’s not two teams. And we have four great drivers.
“This is a great statement. Seeing our Viper in the lead is better than any commercial or any ad you see in a magazine. It shows the car is durable and can fight with anything on this grid and some days like today, you’re at the top of the podium.”
Goossens was very quiet in the car the last couple of laps, listening for that possible sputter of the engine. Only as he crossed the finish line under the checkered flag did the anxiety subside. “Man, it was a great race,” he said. “We gambled a little bit on the fuel. We had to save fuel, but we had to push as well. There is no secret the last caution helped; we were very low on fuel to say the least.”
“I’d like to say a very big thank you to Ralph Gilles, Beth Paretta, Gary Johnson, Matt Bejnarowicz and of course Bill Riley for building such a great car. It’s not only the history of being the first factory-backed victory for Viper since 2000, but we’re only one year old with this program. This is the first track that we’ve gone to for the second time. It was a great race, a great weekend.”
The race weekend belonged to SRT Motorsports and the two SRT Viper GTS-Rs from Riley Technologies. The No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R claimed the pole while the No. 91 was fifth on the starting grid. Both cars led laps throughout the race including a couple of stints running 1-2 in the order. To complicate the situation for the competition, the two Vipers were on different pit strategies. The 91 ended up with the winning strategy but the No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R had the field covered if the race had stayed green. The 93 Viper with Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer aboard finished sixth.
“We were going to bring the No. 91 to pit road for fuel on the lap the caution came out there at the end of the race,” said Bill Riley, Vice President and Chief Engineer, Riley Technologies. “We had a plan, a strategy. We split the strategy for the two cars. If the caution did not come out, the No. 91 and the other cars up front would have to come to pit road for fuel as they couldn’t make it to the end under green. If that happened, the 93 was in position to win with enough fuel without making a stop. The only other car that could have made it under green was behind the 93.
“The speed was there with both cars. The 93 was on the pole. Both cars led laps. The SRT Motorsports team did a great job on pit road and our drivers were superb in the cars. It was a great job by everyone involved – great strategy and execution.”
The race started on a wet surface following a morning rain. Farnbacher got the nod in the No. 91 with the team opting for rain tires to start the race. Contact during the early laps did minor damage to the rear end of the Viper, prompting an early pit stop for repairs. That sealed the race strategy for the team.
“We had the issue early with the 91 getting hit and had to come in early to make the repair,” said Gary Johnson, SRT Motorsport Racing Manger. “We had to make sure the rear end didn’t fall off the car but the crew made the repair and it wasn’t an issue. It wasn’t an issue with the performance. We just needed to make sure everything stayed together.
“We had it covered both ways. It was a great, great race but certainly a nail biter at the end. The credit goes to the team and drivers; they did a fantastic job today.”
Farnbacher did a bit of pacing and nail biting the last few minutes of the race, hoping his teammate had enough fuel to make it to the end.
“It’s unbelievable, the first win for the Viper in quite a while,” said Farnbacher of his fifth career ALMS win but first with SRT Motorsports and Viper. “It was a nail biter. I think we made it to the finish line with the last drop of fuel. If you look at all those faces (SRT team), they’re almost crying, everybody’s crying. It’s so emotional for us. I’m just speechless at the moment.
“It was a difficult start. You could hardly see anything because it rained before the race. The start was quite tricky. I tried to stay away from the people around me but at the end, you just ended in a big mess. I got bumped in the front, rear, side and cars were spinning. It was pretty hectic at the beginning.”
Bomarito qualified the No. 93 on the pole and took the first stint in the car and spent much of the time at the front of the field.
“What a day for SRT and Viper,” Bomarito said. “This is huge. To win in GT Class with this kind of competition is just amazing. What a show today. This entire SRT team has worked so hard to get these Vipers to victory lane. The cars ran amazing. The No. 93 Viper was on an amazing alternate strategy. If the race would have stayed green at the end, we would have had a shot at the win. The race strategy was fantastic. We had a good feeling that one of the SRT Vipers would win today and it was the No. 91.”
Wittmer summed up the day with “We win as a team and lose as a team. The bottom line is that the SRT Viper was at the top of the podium today. This is what it comes down to – winning races. We’ve put so much effort into this win that it’s very rewarding. The entire team has worked so hard that when you get to the top of the podium, it’s an amazing feeling. We got the win. The Viper was amazing all day. When I saw the full-course yellow (flag) at the end and Marc (Goossens) in P1, it didn’t really matter where I was. A SRT Viper was going to win the GT Class. I had tears in my eyes.”
Matt Bejnarowicz has been the SRT Motorsports lead engineer on the program since the inception. “I couldn’t be prouder of the team and I couldn’t be prouder of the drivers,” he said. “It was a big nail biter. We split strategies because we couldn’t make it on fuel in the 91 if it went green so the 93 was playing it conservative and making sure we could make it to the end in case the rest of the cars in front of us pulled in for a splash of fuel. We really tried to keep both ends of the strategy covered and it worked out.
“It’s a year and a half of hard work by team members and it’s probably two-and-a-half to three years of planning. We’ve been away from factory racing at the top level since the year 2000 so it’s 13 years overdue.”
American Le Mans Series
Orion Energy Systems 245
Road America / Elkhart Lake, Wis.
Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013
GT Class Race Results
2. No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1
3. No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1
4. No. 48 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
5. No. 06 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
6. No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R
7. No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE
8. No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE
9. No. 17 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
10. No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia
11. No. 23 Ferrari F458 Italia
Provisional Point Standings
(After 6 of 10 Races)
1. Oliver Gavin 78
1. Tommy Milner 78
3. Dominik Farnbacher 73
3. Marc Goossens 73
4. Antonio Garcia 72
4. Jan Magnussen 72
5. Bill Auberlen 54
5. Maxime Martin 54
6. John Edwards 49
7. Marco Holzer 42
7. Bryce Miller 42
8. Jonathan Bomarito 37
8. Kuno Wittmer 37
9. Joey hand 32
10. Patrick Long 32
10. Tom Kimber-Smith 32
GT Auto Manufacturer
1. Chevrolet 111
2. BMW 95
3. SRT 86
4. Porsche 71
5. Ferrari 69
GT Team Championship
1. Corvette Racing 108
2. BMW Team RLL 84
3. SRT MOTORSPORTS 81
4. Paul Miller Racing 42
5. CORE Autosport 32
6. Risi Competizione 30
7. Team West/AJR Ferrari 25
8. Team Falken Tire 24