SRT Motorsports – SRT Viper GTS-Rs Sebring Raceway Test Session Notes and Quotes – American Le Mans Series

By Auto News Log • January 23rd, 2013

Following a recent test at Sebring Raceway, members of the SRT Motorsports Team responded to questions about the performance of the SRT Viper GTS-Rs that will compete in the GT Class in the American Le Mans Series in 2013.

Gary Johnson – Road Racing Manager – SRT Motorsports

WHAT WERE YOUR IMPRESSIONS FROM THE TEST AT SEBRING? “We had a really good test. We covered a lot of miles and had a lot of different configurations with the cars. We tuned some new components and we made improvements in almost every area. The really great thing about those cars is that they are rock solid, reliable and durable as well.”

HOW CHALLENGING IS SEBRING RACEWAY? “It is a unique track. It is quite bumpy and has many different surfaces to it, so it’s really important to do testing there and tune the car specifically to that track. It’s good that we went there this month. We’ll be there again in early February, so I think we’re going to have a very good handle on how the car should be set up for race day.”

HOW MUCH PROGRESS HAVE YOU MADE FROM THE CONCLUSION OF THE 2012 SEASON? “Since we finished at Petit Le Mans, we’ve gone back and looked at almost every component to try to make everything as efficient as possible and to improve the performance, whether it’s the air conditioning system or the shock package. Everything has been touched and improved upon.”

DO YOU HAVE A LIST OF THINGS YOU WANT TO TRY AT THE FEBRUARY TEST AT SEBRING? DID THE RECENT TEST LAY THE FOUNDATION FOR WHAT YOU WANT TO TRY WHEN YOU GO BACK EARLY NEXT MONTH? “Yes, for sure. We ended up putting together a priority list for the February test. It’ll be more subtle than our test in January. It’s just fine-tuning setups, things like that. It should be very helpful and also give our drivers some additional track time with the cars on the track.”

HOW DO YOU TEST AND PREPARE FOR AN ENDURANCE RACE? “I think the big thing about a 12-hour race will be making sure the car is as durable as it could be and making sure that we don’t have any reliability issues. Based on the number of miles that we went over the two-and-a-half days of testing, we’re pretty confident in how we will perform in a 12-hour race.”

Bill Riley – Vice President, Riley Technologies

FOLLOWING THE RECENT TEST AT SEBRING RACEWAY, CAN YOU TELL THAT THE SRT VIPER GTS-R PROGRAM IS MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION? “I feel that the test is, hopefully, a really good indication of how the year is going to go. We had the cars completely stripped apart in the winter. The guys put ‘em back together and we didn’t have any major issues at all. We’ve been working on some development parts; those all worked. It’s hard to tell at that track. The track changes so much with the amount of tire grip that’s on it and the temperature, but we think we had a good test and were competitive. Everybody left that test feeling pretty good about the results. All the drivers did a great job. We were all pretty happy with everything.”

WHEN YOU RUN WELL AT AN ABRASIVE AND BUMPY TRACK LIKE SEBRING, DOES THAT BODE WELL FOR THE UPCOMING SEASON? “Yeah, I think so. If you can get the car to go around Sebring, go over the bumps and not fall apart, then you pretty much know you’re going to have a pretty good season. That’s just the way Sebring is and why Audi comes over and runs it every year. There’s a lot of endurance stuff that transfers over to other tracks.”

HOW MUCH PROGRESS HAVE YOU SEEN FROM THE FINAL RACE OF THE 2012 SEASON THROUGH THE FIRST TEST AT SEBRING? “We’ve gone through the car front to back. There weren’t any big things to do but there were some things to clean up. Whenever you build a new car, you don’t like this part or you don’t like that part or this doesn’t fit well, so we had a chance to go through the car and solve those issues.”

DO YOU HAVE AN EXTENSIVE PLAN OF ATTACK AT THE SECOND TEST AT SEBRING IN FEBRUARY? “We have a pretty big to-do list right now, stuff to do at the shop. I think when we go back in February we will work more on execution, on pit stop practice, how to change things and that kind of stuff because hopefully setup-wise, we should have the cars working pretty well.”

HOW DO YOU TEST FOR AN ENDURANCE RACE? DO YOU TRY TO RUN AS MANY LAPS AS YOU CAN TO TEST THE DURABILITY OF THE CAR? “We have enough miles on the car now to know its weak points, not that there were a lot of ‘em. We’ve been fortunate enough to fix those in the offseason. I would say the one car finishing Petit, you have to be real careful when you pull that car apart to see if there is anything that’s cracked or is it wearing properly the more miles you get. It’s hard to do a complete endurance test because it’s so costly. You go through so many tires and so much time on the car. Every mile that’s put on the car is a dollar amount and it’s hard to do that effectively.”

Matt Bejnarowicz – Viper Lead Racing Engineer – SRT Motorsports

HOW DID THE RECENT TEST AT SEBRING RACEWAY GO FOR THE SRT VIPER GTS-R? “Very good. Sebring is one of the roughest tracks that we’ll go to, other than street courses. It’s fairly challenging for a couple of reasons. One, there is a lot of concrete and the track has many broken sections in the surface. It’s an old WWII bomber base, so part of the track uses the old runways. You have a lot of concrete to asphalt conditions, coupled with rough high speed corners, which really make the setup of the car challenging. The car needs to be compliant enough to shrug the bumps and tolerable/predictable for the drivers. At the same time, the car has to be stiff enough to control the aerodynamics and the handling motion of the car. On the positive side, the track is pretty good for developing damper packages (shock absorbers). It’s fairly well known in racing, if you can get your car to handle well and get a good damper package for Sebring, you should be in a good position for most of the other tracks. That was really our focus at the last test – work on damper tuning. We’ll be headed to a shaker rig shortly and we’re back at Sebring again for the winter test to continue the damper work.”

OVERALL, WAS THE TEST SUCCESSFUL? “Completely successful. We went a fair amount faster from the time we unloaded to the time we left, but that’s only part of the accomplishment. The team made a lot of changes to the cars in the off season – the GTS-R’s were down to bare frames and rebuilt. Once again, the cars unloaded, the drivers hit the start button and they ran all day. We’re really, I think, blessed; sometimes we forget how fortunate we are that we’re not fighting engine issues and we’re not fighting mechanical or electrical problems. We unload and focus on our test plan, not on mechanical issues. It’s a testament to the guys that are on the engine program, the crew of mechanics, and the engineers. There’s never a preparation mistake on the cars. It’s an underlying success that’s easy to forget about, but we have all been on teams or seen others struggle with teething pains and issues that ruin a day. We’re really fortunate because we don’t fight any of that, which allows us to get down to business right away. From a performance standpoint at the test, we made the car quite a bit better. We have a handle on what Sebring requires from a tuning standpoint and loaded up with a lot of information to take back and prepare for the ALMS winter test.”

HOW MUCH PROGRESS HAVE YOU MADE FROM PETIT LE MANS AT ROAD ATLANTA TO THE FIRST SEBRING TEST? “It’s hard to gauge how fast our lap times are at Sebring because the track changes so much. Because of the concrete surface, the track “rubbers up” as cars run there over the course of a race weekend making it faster. When we go there and test, there really isn’t a lot of competition to judge how fast the track is and how fast the car is. We know that we’ve made improvements since Road Atlanta but it’s hard to quantify how much they are worth at this point.”

HOW MANY CHANGES WILL YOU MAKE TO THE CARS BEFORE RETURN TO SEBRING NEXT MONTH? “We ended last year with a big list of improvements to make. The off season gave us a chance to step back a little bit, rethink what we’ve done, and try to optimize. We focused on removing weight anywhere we could. A lot of things that we did last year, like adding insulation to keep the driver cockpit cool, have been tidied up now. At the same time, the air conditioning system was redesigned, lightened, and is showing a good cooling performance improvement. We’ve honed in now on where the suspension works best, so Riley has been able to evolve the designs, optimize, and take out a little bit more weight. Taking weight out is always a pound at a time, so everything has been scrutinized.

“We’ve got a couple of different partners on board now, which is really exciting. We’re now partnered up with Motegi Racing which is a top competition wheel supplier. We’re now in the process of making our wheels for the 2013 season. We expect Motegi Racing will get us another step in both performance as well as weight reduction.”

DO YOU HAVE A PLAN FOR THE UPCOMING TEST AT SEBRING IN FEBRUARY? “Most of the focus will be on the damper program again. That just seems to be the biggest hurdle and biggest reward when you go to Sebring. Sebring is so unique because it is so rough and we’re exercising the car a little bit differently than we have in the past. It’s also always our goal to get miles on the car in that environment because we’re going into an endurance event. The track beats the car up harder than anywhere else. I think we ran close to 600 miles in each car at the last test, which is over half the race distance. At the upcoming test, we’ll continue to focus on durability validation on the cars, and try to find any weakness that could be hiding, waiting to upset the long race.”

Source: SRT


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