Intent on recapturing the form that made it sports car racing’s dominant GT force in the early days of the ALMS, SRT Viper will return to the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón this season. SRT Viper Racing is set to debut its competition-ready SRT Viper GTS-R later in 2012, Chrysler Group officials announced today at the New York Auto Show.
The company also unveiled its road-going 2013 SRT Viper at the auto show. The focus later turned to the racing version of the V10-powered snake. Two of them are set to join the ALMS’ highly competitive GT class later this season against high-performance entries from BMW, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Lotus and Porsche, among others.
“I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the significance of the SRT Viper returning to the top level of professional sports car racing,” said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón. “The Chrysler Group has a long, storied and very successful history of competing with the American Le Mans Series. We would be hard-pressed to come up with a better scenario than having the brand return with the simultaneous introduction of both the new production car and the competition version. What a great way for SRT Viper to come back to racing.”
SRT Motorsports partnered with Riley Technologies, based in Mooresville, N.C., on the design-and-build process of the new SRT Viper GTS-R. SRT Viper Racing has three drivers signed: Kuno Wittmer, Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens. Farnbacher, a four-time winner in the Series, and Goossens are familiar faces to ALMS fans. SRT Viper Racing’s debut also will mark Wittmer’s first ALMS race.
“Racing has been a significant part of the illustrious history of Viper not only with significant wins on the track, but also in the continued development of the street cars – and our new 2013 SRT Viper models are proof of those lessons learned,” said Ralph Gilles, President and CEO – Street and Racing Technology Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC. “Now with our new team and the launch of the GTS-R, we’re excited and proud to begin writing more chapters in the racing history of the Viper later this summer.”
The book is already extensive. The Viper dominated GT racing in the ALMS and at Le Mans more than 15 years ago. Viper Team ORECA – led by Hugues de Chaunac – won the ALMS GTS team championship in 1999 and 2000 and propelled Olivier Beretta to the first two of his five ALMS titles. Dodge also won the GTS manufacturer championship in 2000.
Vipers won 12 straight races and 16 of 20 between 1999 and 2000. It also captured the GTS class at the Le Mans 24 Hours each year from 1998-2000. The original Viper GTS-R debuted in 1996 and also claimed three straight FIA GT championships.