American Le Mans Series – Round 6
THE VIPER GTS-R IS BACK IN 2013
· The driver lineup for Sunday’s race: Kuno Wittmer and Jonathan Bomarito in the No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R; Marc Goossens and Dominik Farnbacher in the No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R.
· SRT Motorsports visits Road America after scoring two podium finishes and winning the pole position at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport). The No. 91 Viper GTS-R placed second, just ahead of the No.93. Bomarito won the pole with a record lap of 117.309 mph.
· SRT Motorsports competed at Road America in 2012. The No. 91 team placed ninth while the No. 93 finished 13th.
SRT VIPER RACING HERITAGE
· In 1996, the Viper GTS-R made its debut and competed in a limited schedule in the GT1 class of the European and Asian BPR Global GT Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
· Finished 1-2 at 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTS class for three consecutive years (1998-2000).
· Five international GT championships.
· Three-consecutive FIA GT championships (1997-1999).
· Won the ALMS GTS class, manufacturer’s and driver’s championship in 2000.
· In 2000, became the first production-based American car to capture the overall win at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“It’s really just a matter of time before we’re on that top step of the podium (race win). I think that given a little better luck at Mosport, we would have hit the top spot at that race. I think we can carry the momentum from Mosport into the race at Road America this weekend. We expect our SRT Viper GTS-Rs will do well on that type of track. We have the same drivers and team that has done such a great job for us this year. The cars are obviously very good.”
–Gary Johnson, SRT Motorsports Racing Manager
FOLLOW THE ACTION
- Race Broadcast –- 8/11/13 at 3:00 p.m. (EDT) on ABC
- Live Streaming –- 8/11/13 at 2:45 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN3
- Live Qualifying –- 8/10/13 at 10:30 a.m. (EDT) on ESPN3
- Live Timing and Scoring available atALMS.com.
SRT MOTORSPORTS QUOTES
Gary Johnson – SRT Motorsports Racing Manager
“I think we can carry the momentum from Mosport into the race at Road America this week. We’ve got the same great drivers and the same team that has done such a great job for us. We expect the cars will do well on that type of track. We’ve worked a little bit in between race weekends to improve on our pit stop times.”
IS MOSPORT AND ROAD AMERICA SIMILAR? DO YOU CARRY A LOT OF SPEED AT BOTH TRACKS? “I think Road America might have more straights. We think we’re good at balancing the downforce required for cornering with our top speed. I believe this track might suit the combination really well.”
HOW SPECIAL WAS IT TO SEE BOTH CARS RUN SO WELL AT MOSPORT? THAT MUST BE VERY GRATIFYING TO SEE THE PROGRAM TAKE STEPS TO BEING A CONTENDER FOR A WIN WEEK IN AND WEEK OUT. “It’s really just a matter of time before we’re on that top step of the podium. The cars are obviously very good. I think that given a little better luck at Mosport, we would have hit that top spot. Traffic really got in the way of the race up front and kind of ended our hopes for a win (91 car) at Mosport.
Kuno Wittmer – No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R
“We’ve definitely been carrying momentum since the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The team has been on a high since scoring a top five at Lime Rock and then scoring a double podium at Canadian Motorsports Park (Mosport). That was huge.
“Road America is a track that resembles Le Mans. As far as the straightaways go, you have two or three really long straights where we build a lot of speed. So, things that we learned in France, things that we learned on a simulator will apply at Road America very well. Overall, I think that the SRT Vipers will do very, very well there. It’s finally a track that we have data from 2012. That’s definitely going to be a benefit for us, a big plus in our pocket. The next race after that is Baltimore, so we have to be very cautious and careful that we don’t wad up the cars in qualifying or practice, that we finish the race properly and go for the win.”
HOW SPECIAL HAS IT BEEN TO SEE THIS PROGRAM DEVELOP FROM THE GROUND UP AND GET MORE COMPETITIVE EACH WEEK? “It’s an honor to race with Bill Riley and SRT Motorsports day in and day out. We’re one family and the team is coming together nicely. Keep in mind this program started last year. What Bill Riley has done to form the team is a masterpiece. Being there since day one, yes, it’s definitely a big plus. I’ve seen everything developing and it’s all in a positive way. Everybody is putting in their time, everybody is turning the page properly and that’s what counts. It’s just moving ahead and the wins will come.”
HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE AT ROAD AMERICA? “Actually I consider Road America my special home. I’ve had some great success there. I’ve won races there, I’ve won pole positions there and currently hold the track record there. So, it’s a place where I’ve had really, really good times and success. In 2009, it’s where I met the family I’m working with right now – SRT Motorsports. It was the first race I ever did in a GT car. It’s where I met Gary Johnson (SRT Motorsports Racing Manager) and Matt Bejnarowicz (SRT Motorsports Lead Engineer) and that’s basically where our journey started.”
THE GRAND-AM CARS ARE ALSO RACING AT ROAD AMERICA THIS WEEKEND. DOES THAT CREATE A DIFFERENT DYNAMIC TO THE WEEKEND? “I think being the premier series so far in the first five rounds was very nice but we have to keep in mind that ’14 is the big picture and the wheel is slowly turning to having both championships combined. We’re going to be joining forces with Grand-Am next year so it’s really nice that we’re going to be together this weekend. It’ll be great to compare lap times even though there’s going to be minor changes to many of the classes for next year. Still, it’s good to meet some of the drivers, the teams and especially the fans that support Grand-Am and the fans that support ALMS.”
Jonathan Bomarito – No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R
“Road America is an awesome track. It’s big, it’s four-miles long. It has every kind of corner that you can think of – hairpin, fast, flowing corners. It’s a really good track. I enjoy racing there, everybody does. It just has a nice flow to it and makes for some really good racing. You have to be good everywhere. You need to be fast on the straightaways so you’re constantly trying to take away downforce, drag, off the car. But then you have to get through all the high speed corners well that lead onto those straightaways. It’s a fine line, a compromise to find good balance, cornering speed and straightaway speed.”
ARE THERE ANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN ROAD AMERICA AND MOSPORT? “I think there’s a lot that can be taken from Mosport and transitioned to Road America. One good thing that we haven’t had up to this point this year is a track that the team has been to before. I wasn’t a part of the team at this stage last year but they got to run these cars on Road America last year, so we actually have some data to pull from which should help.”
YOU ENTER THE ROAD AMERICA RACE FRESH FROM MOSPORT WHERE THE TEAM HAD A STRONG CHANCE TO WIN THE RACE WITH BOTH CARS. THE PROGRAM IS GETTING MORE COMPETITIVE EACH WEEK. THAT MUST BE REWARDING FOR EVERYONE ON THE TEAM. “I think it’s huge for everybody on the team. Everybody has worked so hard to get to this point and we’re starting to see the potential and reap some of those rewards – two cars on the podium, pole positions. All of those things are just good for everybody, they are rewards for all the hard work. I think we’re on the right track. Everybody is working harder than ever. That glimpse of everything going well and the opportunity to get our first win is pushing us very hard.”
SINCE THE MIDDLE PART OF THIS SEASON THE TEAM HAS RUN VERY WELL AND TAKEN A STEP TOWARD WINNING A RACE. DO YOU THINK THAT WAS BECAUSE OF TESTING AND DEVELOPMENT OR PERHAPS COMPETING AT LE MANS OR A COMBINATION OF EVERYTHING? “I think it’s just a combination of everything. Every piece has to be right to be competitive in this class and the team has been working hard to get us to that point. It’s really a combination of everything. It’s not just one thing that clicked for us and now, all of sudden, we’re more competitive. It’s putting all the pieces together and all the detail work that goes into these programs that takes time.”
Marc Goossens – No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R
WHAT IS KEY TO HAVING A GOOD RUN AT ROAD AMERICA? “First of all, I want to point out this is the first track that we go back to. It’s one of the tracks that we participated at last year. Some of the data that we gathered last year has actually helped us in making all the progress that we did from August of last year until now. Hopefully, we can optimize all the information we got last year and apply it this weekend for a strong run.
“Road America is one of those tracks where you’ve got to like the combination of high speed corners and low speed corners. It’s a race track that’s looks very similar to some of the European tracks. It’s a great challenge. I think the key word for us as a team needs to be consistency. I see the strong run that we had at Le Mans. So far this year, the Viper GTS-R has been in the top five in every single race in the American Le Mans Series. Unfortunately, our car had an issue at Lime Rock but had a strong showing last race. I think we’ve got a good show going on right now and we need to build on it, keep finishing in the points and try to get the No. 91 and No. 93 back up front.”
COMMENT ON FINDING THE DELICATE BALANCE AT ROAD AMERICA BETWEEN DOWNFORCE AND DRAG. HOW DIFFICULT IS THAT TO ACHIEVE? “Of course you need to find that balance but where that fine line is depends on what you’re trying to achieve. You can go for straight-line speed and give up some of the cornering speed and lap time in the corners because you know you’re going to catch up down the straightaways. I think here, it’s very important that we have the right communication prior to the race. We need to have the pre-race meetings, debriefs and all that in order to know what our objectives are for the weekend. As long as everybody knows and we’re heading in the same direction, I’m sure we can maximize what we try to achieve on the track.”
CAN YOU PUT IN PERSPECTIVE HOW FAR THIS TEAM HAS COME IN SUCH A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME? “We’ve come very far. If you look back at where we were a year ago at races at Mid-Ohio and Road America, we were struggling. It was a very young program. We had to deal with a lot of issues at the same time but I think it shows the people that were chosen to be on the team has been right from the start.
“I think a lot of credit there goes to Bill Riley for putting a great team together. Everybody knew what we were there for and I think drivers, engineers, mechanics, everybody has been going in the same direction. First, we had to deal with small issues like heat inside the car. After we got that out of the way, we started proving that sometimes we had some speed, sometimes we made it to the end of the race. We showed some strength and speed; the pace was there. After that, the reliability came and before we actually realized it, our hard work was paying off with consistency.
“If you look back at Sebring, after a winter of hard work, you saw more progress. I think Sebring was the first showing. And then we confirmed that progress at Long Beach and had a good run at Laguna, although I have to admit that maybe that (Laguna Seca) was one of the weak showings we’ve had so far this year.
“A lot of it has to do with balance of performance. Look at the results we’ve had recently. I mean if you go back to Mosport, Lime Rock, Le Mans and Sebring, the results confirm we’ve all been working very hard to bring our program to this level. We’re on that wave. If it’s up to me, I don’t want to quit that wave. I want to stay on it and I can’t see any reason we can’t and why we shouldn’t be competitive at Road America.”
Dominik Farnbacher – No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R
“We have pretty good momentum going after the last race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport). The whole team is happy. You should have seen all the e-mail traffic. That’s very good for us. We needed that, we needed that motivation kick. Now, the last step we can make is first-place. We did a third-place, we did a second-place place and now we need a first-place, a win.
“This will be the second time we’ve been to Road America. Last season it was our second race. We’re bringing the experience we gained last year to the race this weekend. This is the first time we’ve raced at a track a second time. That actually helps a lot.
“I’m very motivated. The race track is a very quick, high-speed race track. It’s a little like Mosport. I think it suits the Viper pretty well; our car should be good there.”
HOW BIG OF A FACTOR IS IT TO GO BACK TO A RACE TRACK FOR THE SECOND TIME? “The thing we struggled with last year was the setup for the first practice session. Now, the second time at Road America, we can start with the setup we used last year in qualifying or in practice. We have a base point to start. That gives us the opportunity to concentrate on other stuff, go more into the detail of fine-tuning the car.”
AS FAST AS ROAD AMERICA IS, DOES IT PUT PRESSURE ON YOU TO BE ALERT IN THE CAR BECAUSE OF THE SPEED OF THE PROTOTYPE CARS? “No, usually not. Road America is very wide. It’s not that big of a deal at Road America. It’s one of the best tracks for traffic and so I don’t think that will be a big problem. We have to fine-tune the car for top speed. You have three or four long straightaways
source: Kuno Wittmer, srtmotorsports.com