Team Viper Claims Another Top 10 in ALMS Competition
No. 91 Team Ninth at Road America, No. 93 Involved in Mishap
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. - SRT Motorsports’ Team Viper didn’t totally compete the mission in its second American Le Mans Series start but there were plenty of positives from the weekend at Road America. At the top of the list was a second consecutive top-10 finish by the No. 91 Forza Motorsports Viper GTS-R team of Kuno Wittmer and Dominik Farnbacher. They finished ninth. The No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra Viper driven by Tommy Kendall and Marc Goossens finished 13th.
The lone disappointment was the second Viper didn’t complete the four-hour event at the 4.048-mile circuit. Just prior to the midway point, Kendall ended up in the wall as the No. 93 Viper GTS-R was launched into the air at the end of the Turn Three rumble strip and sent out of control. The impact at the end of the rumble strip apparently broke something in the front end which prompted the car to veer sharply to the right across the track and through the grass into the wall.
“Coming out of Turn Three at the end of the rumble strips there was a big jump of some sort that launched the car,” said Kendall. “I did it once before, so I knew better. When it launched the car before, I was waiting for something to break and it didn’t. That was three or four laps earlier. You can’t see it. But I got on it and it launched the car again. When it landed, something broke and turned the car right and across the track into the wall. It’s not the way we wanted our day to end. There’s so little time until the next race. Our primary goal was to get both cars to the finish and not do any damage. So, we did not accomplish that. That’s the overwhelming taste in my mouth right now. But every time we run the car, we learn about it, get miles on it. We learned something here the hard way.”
Team Viper was making only its second ALMS start in its return to competition in the GT class. The debut came two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio where the No. 91 team of Wittmer and Farnbacher finished 10th.
“This weekend has been a great weekend for us,” said Gary Johnson, Road Racing Manager, SRT Motorsports. “We would like to have finished both cars, but the 91 had a ninth-place finish which I thought was excellent and Tommy (Kendall) is OK after the accident. That shows how strong that Viper is physically. They’ll get the car back to the shop and put it back together. We should have two strong cars at Baltimore.
“I think we’re where we thought we would be in the development process after two races. We had a good strong finish with the 91 today. What we’re looking for right now is getting a little more top speed on the car. When we do, I think we’ll be right there. Today, the cars were great on the handling side. The brakes were very strong. The Michelin tires were perfect.”
Farnbacher started the race for the No. 91 team and logged the first two hours before Wittmer took the reins for the final two. The only problem for the team came in the second hour when there was slight contact with another car that created a hole in the right front underneath the headlight.
“It took away a lot of the front bite, messed up the aero a little bit but we still finished,” said Farnbacher. “We brought it home in ninth, that’s better than Mid-Ohio where we were 10th. We’re collecting points and getting better and better. We made progress all weekend.”
Wittmer echoed the enthusiasm. “Another top-10,” he said. “What more can you ask for from a program that made its debut two weeks ago. We’ve made excellent progress. I think that we were consistently fighting for position. We took this race very, very serious as if we were leading the race. We finished ninth, got some good data and had good comrade between the teammates and the crew. We had good driver changes and pit stops; everything was going in a positive direction again. I think it was a big step over Mid-Ohio. Now we get ready for Baltimore.”
Goossens started the race in the No. 93 and said the car was loose early. “We made a change after the warm-up trying to get a little more speed and it turned out that wasn’t the way to go,” he said. “It wasn’t the best we had the car all weekend but it was a very consistent car. All in all, I don’t think it was a bad day. We learned quite a bit during the run. Unfortunately, our race got cut short. We have something to look at, something to learn from as we get ready for Baltimore. We’ve made progress. We learned a lot about what the car likes and doesn’t like. Now, we go back to the shop and let the engineers look at all the numbers and see what they come up with. I think it’s been a good weekend for us.”
Bill Riley, of Riley Technologies which built the two SRT Viper GTS-Rs, had praise for the crews of both cars in the preparation for each practice session and the race. “The crew did a great job,” he said. “We ran every session and we had no mechanical issues.
That’s a very big positive. We had some issues the last race with cockpit heat and fuel-cell pickup. We addressed those. We now have some new issues, a big challenge coming up getting ready for Baltimore with the accident involving the 93. We’ll have to work hard this week in the shop and get it fixed.”