Kuno Wittmer – No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R (Finished 5th)
The No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R driven by Jonathan Bomarito, Kuno Wittmer and Tommy Kendall survived an off-track excursion to lead SRT Motorsports with a fifth-place finish at Petit Le Mans Saturday at Road Atlanta.
The No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R driven by Marc Goossens, Dominik Farnbacher and Ryan Dalziel also briefly went off course during the race but rebounded to score a seventh-place finish.
Ralph Gilles, President & CEO, Street and Racing Technology Brand and Motorsports
“Congratulations to Jonathan Bomarito, Kuno Wittmer, and Tommy Kendall for their outstanding performance. Their pit stops were outstanding and the driver changes were flawless.
“Our entire SRT Motorsports team has come together in impressive fashion this season, from the engineers, drivers to the pit crews to everyone involved at Riley Technologies.”
“After a 12-year absence, it is a great privilege to be racing at this level. I am proud of SRT Motorsports’ resolve and ability to dig deep, virtually eliminating the performance gap within one year. In this past American Le Mans Series season, we’ve grown together as a team and improved the speed and handling of both cars along the way that resulted in three pole positions, five podium finishes and an exciting win at Road America.
“On behalf of the SRT brand and Chrysler Group, I want to thank our drivers and the Riley Technologies crew for their hard work, efforts and dedication that allowed the No. 91 and No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-Rs to shine in our first full season back on the track.”
Gary Johnson – SRT Motorsports Racing Manager
“I’m really proud of our drivers and both crews, the entire SRT Motorsports team. Our issues were on-track problems. Sometimes you have good luck in racing and other times you don’t. I think we showed that the cars were very, very fast.”
THE FIRST HALF OF THE RACE WAS RUN UNDER WET TO DRYING TRACK CONDITIONS. HOW CHALLENGING IS THAT? “I wouldn’t want to be in the car driving, that’s for sure (smiles). That has to be very challenging because you go into one corner and everything is fine and the next one is slick. It just shows how professional our drivers are. Our engineers made all the right calls on the setups for the cars.”
Bill Riley – VP and Chief Engineer, Riley Technologies
“I was pretty happy at the beginning of the race and then we had our incident about halfway through and I was concerned we were going to run around about three seconds off the pace. But the car took the hit unbelievably well and kept going. It’s so fast now I think we should have wrecked it when we showed up here at testing last week (laughs). That would be have been a lot better deal I think. I can’t believe it made it through and we didn’t have any major issues with it later on so I’m pretty happy about that. The team was great. The 93 guys were flawless. I think we’re just going to build on this for next year and get ready for Daytona.
CAN YOU PUT INTO PERSPECTIVE HOW IMPRESSIVE IT WAS THAT THE CAR TOOK SUCH A HARD HIT AND STILL SO WELL? “It’s got quite a bit of damage. I ask him (Dalziel) after the impact if the car was straight down the straightaways and he said it’s pulling under braking. I said let me know if it gets worse because then obviously something is starting to let go but he said it’s going to be okay, it’s still pulling straight. I think after we got Ryan out and Dominik in, got the tires right and the weather changed a little bit, then I knew we were going to be okay.
“We tried some strategy to get some laps back under yellow and it wasn’t our day for luck with the yellows. We couldn’t catch a break on the yellows. It’s just a shame because the car was quick and the team did well on both cars. I don’t think our finishing result shows how good the cars were, not taking anything away from the guys who won because they won, period.”
COMMENT ON TRACK CONDITIONS EARLY IN THE RACE WHERE YOU WERE RACING ON WET TRACK THAT WAS DRYING AND THEN IT WAS WET AGAIN. BOTH TEAMS APPEARED TO HAVE THE CORRECT TIRES ON AT THE CORRECT TIME. “For me I’ve two things helping me on that: Goossens and Farnbacher because they both know what to do when the track is wet. The both know how to drive in those conditions and obviously Ryan does too because we had him on slicks most of the time. If you look at the records, we probably did the least amount of tire changes going back and forth (wets to dry). I had enough confidence in our drivers to do that and put them in those kind of positions and all three of them did great.”
Jonathan Bomarito – No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R (Finished Fifth)
“It’s a frustrating day because I think we had two cars and either one of them could have won today, two cars on the podium. I just want to thank SRT Motorsports for giving us the opportunity to do this. We’re going to come back really, really strong next year. I can’t wait for the offseason because we really get to refine the details and we’re going to come out much stronger next year. I’m looking forward to Daytona to start the year. My hat’s off to everybody at Riley and SRT for the opportunity and all their hard work.”
DID THAT LAST CAUTION WORK TO YOUR ADVANTAGE? “The last caution actually came out at a perfect time. It allowed us to get one more lap back and then put us in position to pass one of the Corvettes for fifth-place. So that was good but we had a couple of yellows where it actually cost us a lap. It was just back and forth all day today trying to get our laps back. It was a tough race.”
HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT AT THE START OF THE RACE WITH THE CHANGING TRACK CONDITIONS? “It doesn’t get any harder than that from being inside the racecar. Wet to half-wet to dry and then back to half-wet and deciding on what tires to go with. It’s really mentally draining on you, you’re really tense that whole time. But we came through it and I think we made pretty much the right calls throughout the day.”
Kuno Wittmer – No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R (Finished 5th)
“First of all, I’d like to thank the entire SRT team this year for all their hard efforts. This was the last race of the season for us. Hats off to everybody that’s involved, every single person who has their fingers in this program.
“The race today didn’t play out the way we wanted it to play out. We had a great qualifying run. We got the cars off to a really great start. In one of my stints we had moved up from about seventh or eighth to fourth and that was a strong effort by the team. Unfortunately we had some contact with an amateur driver with another team. He just didn’t know what to do. We were victims of it more than he was. It’s very unfortunate but this is motorsports and unfortunately that’s how the wheel turned here. I’m strongly looking forward to 2014. Next year, it’s our championship.”
Tommy Kendall – No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R (Finished 5th)
“It was a little bit wild starting in front of the hornet’s nest on slicks on a wet track. The car was so good there wasn’t a lot of drama. I was focused on just staying out of trouble and there was some guys pretty revved up at the start. It worked out for everyone. It’s disappointing to have a car that was so good and not get the finish. We had the fastest cars pretty much all day. Once we got behind, the yellows fell on exactly the wrong laps for us. This (GT) is a tough class. I’ve got to give credit to the Falken guys. Those guys were under immense pressure all day and they answered it. I’m happy for them. We ended on a reasonable note and we’ll get ready for next year.”
Marc Goossens – No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R (Finished 7th)
“If you look at the state of the car right now, it’s quite amazing that it still steers around there but we could still do low 20s there at the end. Multiple times during the race we proved that we had the car to beat today. I told Bill Riley after I got out of the car the first time, if we keep our nose clean there’s nobody that has enough for us to take 1-2 away from SRT Motorsports. But we didn’t get it, it wasn’t our day. We had some bad luck with some incidents but other than that, I think we drove right. The team did a great job in the pits. We had the package going; it just didn’t come our way. Whether we had to be more patient or whether our competition had to be more patient in passing us, whatever it was, we had collisions and you can’t afford to have that in these kind of races. I want to thank the whole team. We had great strategy calls, great pit work and great runs the entire time. I think we can go a long way next year with this program.”
Dominik Farnbacher – No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R (Finished 7th)
“The 91 car was the one to beat this race. If you look at lap times, we had the strongest car. The 93 and 91 turned the quickest lap times of the race. Looking back, it was not a good result for us. It’s disappointing. Two times our cars were sent off into the grass and Ryan (Dalziel) was sent into the wall. Other than that it was a good race for us.
“Despite that hard hit the car is still in one piece. That really shows how strong the Viper is built. Now we know we have a good car for next year. Now we keep on working hard in the offseason. In one month there’s the first official tests at Daytona and Sebring. We’ll use the tests to continue developing the car.
“I want to say thanks to all my teammates and also to Bill Riley and everybody involved in the whole program. I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Ryan Dalziel – No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R (Finished 7th)
“I agree with race control that the penalty went to the P2 car (avoidable contact). I’ve driven on both sides of the grid here in GT and Prototypes and there needs to be respect for each other. (Ryan) Briscoe is a good friend of mine so I know it wasn’t intentional but you just have to be a little bit more patient as a P2 driver. Really unfortunate because we were just super-fast and even at the end we made up a lot of ground and both Vipers were really the class of the field. I kind of said at the start that the only people that are going to ruin this race and stop us from winning are ourselves and somebody else. We as a team did everything right. It’s just one of those days that you expect when you have really dominate performances like this. The reason you have a two-car team is one of them should be there to pick up the pieces. It just wasn’t our day. I want to say thank-you to everyone at SRT and Riley and my teammates for making me feel at home. I’ve had a really good year. I’ve loved being here and I wish everybody the best of luck next year. I look forward to seeing the Viper win Daytona.”
SRT MOTORSPORTS DOMINATES EARLY BUT MISHAPS SPOIL FINISH
The No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R Class of Field First Half of Petit Le Mans
Through the first half of Saturday’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, the No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R was the class of the field, leading 107 of the first 185 laps in the GT Class. Drivers Dominik Farnbacher, Mark Goossens and Ryan Dalziel all led laps during their stint behind the wheel in the 10-hour or 1,000-mile event.
The race at the 2.54-mile circuit marked the end of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) era. Next year, ALMS and Grand-Am will combine to form the Tudor United SportsCar Championship.
Intermittent rain throughout the first half of the event left teams in a quandary over tire selection – slicks or wets (rain). The SRT Motorsports team servicing the 91 were continually ahead of the competition with its tire selection and timely pit stops which kept the Viper at the front of the field while the No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R team (Tommy Kendall, Kuno Wittmer and Jonathan Bomarito) was on a bit of a different strategy, looking to take advantage of a miscalculation by the competition.
Unfortunately, even in an endurance race, the slightest mishap has a major impact on the finish. That was the case for both SRT Motorsports entries Saturday. After flawless performances the first 500 miles, off-course incidents early in the second half of the event proved costly for both cars, taking them out of contention for the victory. Despite the setback, both teams battled to the checkered flag with the No. 93 finishing fifth and the No. 91 ending up seventh.
“After a 12-year absence, it is a great privilege to be racing at this level. I am proud of SRT Motorsports’ resolve and ability to dig deep, virtually eliminating the performance gap within one year. In this past American Le Mans Series season, we’ve grown together as a team and improved the speed and handling of both cars along the way, which resulted in three pole positions, five podium finishes and an exciting win at Road America,” said Ralph Gilles, President and CEO – SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC. “On behalf of the SRT brand and Chrysler Group, I want to thank our drivers and the Riley Technologies crew for their hard work, efforts and dedication that allowed the No. 91 and No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-Rs to shine in our first full season back on the track.”
Starting second in the GT Class was only a minor hurdle for the No. 91. Farnbacher had the machine in the lead by the time the field completed the first circuit. He held the top spot for 39 laps before surrendering the lead for a scheduled pit stop for fuel, tires and a driver change. Goossens wasted little time driving back to the front, building up a comfortable advantage before giving way to Dalziel. The No. 91 had a 26-second cushion at the four-hour mark.
“I’m really proud of our drivers and both crews, the entire SRT Motorsports team,” said SRT Motorsports Racing Manager Gary Johnson. “Our issues were on-track problems. Sometimes you have good luck in racing and other times you don’t. I think we showed that the cars were very, very fast.”
The No. 93 was the first SRT Motorsports entry to be dealt a setback. Running fifth, contact with a Prototype on Lap 164 send the 93 briefly off course. Add in a 60-second penalty for avoidable contact and the Viper was two laps down to the GT leader.
“It’s a frustrating day because I think we had two cars and either one of them could have won today, two cars on the podium,” said Bomarito. “We’re going to come back really, really strong next year. I’m already looking forward to Daytona to start the year. My hat’s off to everybody at Riley and SRT for the opportunity and all their hard work.”
“The race today didn’t play out the way we wanted it to play out,” said Wittmer. “We had a great qualifying run. We got the cars off to a really great start. We had fast cars right down to the end of the race. It was a great team effort.”
Misfortune for the No. 91 came on Lap 185. Running second, contact with the No. 551 (Prototype) sent Dalziel off course and into the retaining wall in Turn 10. The team made repairs and the 91 returned to competition but two laps behind the leader. The No. 551 was penalized for avoidable contact.
“The 91 car was the one to beat this race,” said Farnbacher. “If you look at lap times, we had the strongest car. The 93 and 91 turned the quickest lap times of the race. Looking back, it was not a good result for us.”
“We had great strategy calls, great pit work and great runs the entire time,” said Goossens. “I think we can go a long way with this program next year.”
Despite the setback, there was no quit in SRT Motorsports. The group, drivers and team alike, raced as if they were battling for the lead all the way to the checkered flag. Unfortunately they didn’t receive any help along the way with timely cautions. Both cars were still running competitive laps at the end, even quicker than the GT leaders over the final eight laps.
“We tried some strategy to get some laps back under yellow and it wasn’t our day for luck with the yellows,” said Bill Riley, Vice President and Chief Engineer, Riley Technologies. “We couldn’t catch a break on the yellows. It’s just a shame because the car was quick and the team did well on both cars. I don’t think our finishing result shows how good the cars were, not taking anything away from the guys who won because they won, period.”
Race Results / GT Class
American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron
Petit Le Mans
Road Atlanta / Braselton, Ga.
Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013
1. No. 17 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (Henzler, Sellers and Tandy)
2. No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE (Muller, Edwards and Auberlen)
3. No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia (Beretta, Malucelli and Liddell)
4. No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE (Alzen, Martin and Muller)
5. No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R (Wittmer, Bomarito, Kendall)
6. No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 (Magnussen, Garcia and Taylor)
7. No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R (Farnbacher, Goossens and Dalziel)
8. No. 06 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (Braun, Long and Christensen)
9. No. 23 Ferrari F458 Italia (Sweedler, Keen and Mowlem)
10. No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 (Milner, Gavin and Westbrook)
11. No. 48 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (Miller, Holzer and Collard)
SRT Motorsports – Running Order Each Hour
Hour 1 – No. 91 – 3rd
No. 93 – 6th
Hour 2 – No. 91 – 2nd
No. 93 – 8th
Hour 3 – No. 91 – 2nd
No. 93 – 7th
Hour 4 – No. 91 – 1st
No. 93 – 6th
Hour 5 – No. 91 – 8th*
No. 93 – 9th**
Hour 6 – No. 91 – 8th
No. 93 – 9th
Hour 7 – No. 93 – 7th
No. 91 – 8th
Hour 8 – No. 93 – 7th
No. 91 – 8th
Hour 9 – No. 93 – 6th
No. 91 – 8th
Hour 10 – No. 93 – 5th
No. 91 – 7th
* Running fifth, the No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R was involved in Incident with a Prototype in Turn 10 near the halfway mark of the 10-hour or 1,000-mile race. The No. 93 was assessed a 60-second penalty for avoidable contact.
** Running second, the No 91 SRT Viper GTS-R was damaged in contact with wall after incident with No. 551 Prototype in Turn 10 on lap 185. The No. 551 penalized for avoidable contact.
Season In Review
Race 91 Finish 93 Finish
Sebring 5 10
Long Beach 3 8
Laguna Seca 5 11
Le Mans 8 9
Lime Rock 11 5
Mosport 2 3
Road America 1 6
Baltimore 5 6
Austin 5 2
VIR 7 9
Road Atlanta 7 5
source: Denny Darnell, darnellcommunications.net