SRT Motorsports simply ran out of time Saturday afternoon at Circuit of the Americas.
- No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R Runner-Up at COTA
- Fifth-Place Finish for No. 91 Rush SRT Viper GTS-R in GT Class
The No. 91 Rush SRT Viper GTS-R piloted by Marc Goossens and Dominik Farnbacher ran in the top five throughout the second half of the race and finished a solid fifth in the two hour and 45 minute event.
With an hour remaining in the race, Bomarito replaced Wittmer in the No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R and was more than 17 seconds behind the leader. By the time the GT Class took the white flag in the caution-free race at the 3.4-mile road course, Bomarito had closed the gap to just over a second. When the checkered flag appeared, the No. 4 Corvette escaped with a scant .854-second margin of victory over of the No. 93 Viper.
“I think we just needed one more lap to be honest,” said Bomarito. “I mean, it’s absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to how close the GT category is. No cautions in a two hour and 45 minute race and it comes down right to the end. What an amazing job by the whole SRT crew. Our SRT Viper GTS-R was awesome. Thanks Kuno, an amazing job. I’m tired but we’re happy.”
The No. 93 Viper started sixth in the American Le Mans Series event with Bomarito at the helm. He picked up four spots on the first lap and was challenging for the lead by the fourth circuit. The race was only 19 minutes old when the Viper took the lead on lap nine. Bomarito led for 17 circuits before pitting at the 55-minute mark for a driver change, fuel and a different tire compound. When the pit cycle ended, Wittmer was running second but the tires fell short of performance expectations and Wittmer had dropped to fifth by the time the team made a final pit stop with an hour remaining.
Once the team went back to the original tire compound and Bomarito returned to the seat, the charge was on.
“We made a tire choice on the No. 93 that was probably not correct when Kuno got in the car for his stint,” said SRT Motorsports Racing Manager Gary Johnson. “He obviously struggled with that setup. When we went back to the original tire compound and Jonathan went back in the car, the car was awesome. Jonathan did everything he could to get it to the front and with just a few more minutes, he could have done it. It was an awesome effort.
“Obviously, a great finish to a weekend. The team did a great job, never gave up. Hats off to Matt (Bejnarowicz) and Bill (Riley) calling the race. They did a fantastic job.”
Wittmer had his hands full during his stint just keeping the No. 93 on the racing surface and out of trouble. “The day was up and down for me,” he said. “We opted for a different strategy on tires and it just didn’t work out the way we expected. Once we changed back to our original tire compound, the car was amazing and Jonathan did a great job. We had great pit stops; it was a total team effort.”
It was the best finish of the season for the No. 93 which also has a pair of poles. The No. 91 Viper captured SRT Motorsports’ first win at Road America last month.
“What an amazing run by this team,” said Bomarito. “The car was fast all day. To make up 17 seconds in one hour and nearly pull off a win is just amazing. Everybody on this team is amazing. The crew did and incredible job in the pits with great stops. We fought all day. The Viper was fantastic. For us to be that fast at the end is just awesome.”
Riley, vice president and chief engineer – Riley Technologies, described the No. 93 as “lighting fast.”
“It was a great run by the SRT Viper GTS-Rs today for sure,” Riley said. The benefit of running two cars is that you can try two different setups. Matt’s (Bejnarowicz, lead engineer) crew worked on a different setup than the 91 car and it worked today. Kuno (Wittmer) and Jonathan (Bomarito) both drove great races. Kuno drove the middle stint and tried some things that didn’t work out so when Jonathan got back in, they had it all tuned up for him. He was lightning fast and almost won the race.”
Bejnarowicz inspired his driver to dig deep and give it everything he had during the final hour. “We were almost 20 seconds down from the leaders at the time and I figured the only chance we had to get back to the front was a yellow flag,” he said. “Jonathan kept going faster and faster. The way he managed traffic was amazing.
“If you would have told me before the race that we would have been able to do that, I would not have believed you. I know the cars were good, but that was all Jonathan Bomarito. In this type of racing, you need a really smart racer who knows when to let a faster prototype go by and when to pass a slower car so it doesn’t mess with the driver’s momentum, and today Jonathan proved to be a master of that.”
The No. 91 team proved throughout the race that it was a top-five car. Still there was something missing with the handling that could have opened the door for an even better finish.
“We drove as hard as we could and that was as much as we could get out of it today,” said Goossens. “The No. 91 was a handful to drive. We’re not sure what the problem is but the team will get it back in the shop and give it a good once-over to diagnose the problem. Realizing the car wasn’t as fast as the No. 93, I ran my own pace and made sure we brought the car home safely.”
Farnbacher feels the team got the maximum performance out of both cars. “It was a greatteam effort today with two cars in the top five,” he said. “We didn’t have the best car today but we had no on-track issues and the car is clean. There was a big difference between our two cars today, so we’ll go back to the shop and the team will go over the No. 91 and see what the problem might be.”
American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron
International Sports Car Weekend
Circuit of the Americas / Austin, Texas
Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013
GT Class Results
1. No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 (Magnussen / Garcia)
2. No. 93 SRT Motorsports (Bomarito / Wittmer)
3. No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE (Edwards / Muller)
4. No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE (Auberlen / Hand)
5. No. 91 SRT Motorsports (Farnbacher / Goossens)
6. No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia (Malucelli / Beretta)
7. No. 17 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (Henzler / Sellers)
8. No. 23 Ferrari F458 Italia (Sweedler / Bell)
9. No. 48 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (B. Miller / Holzer)
10. No. 06 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (Long / Braun)
11. No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 (Gavin / Milner)