Having dominated the GTS class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for three consecutive years between 1998 and 2000, the Dodge Viper has been noticeably absent from the event for the past decade.
That’s all about to change, as the Viper in its latest iteration, now badged an SRT, will be returning to Le Mans in France for this year’s race.As previously reported
, SRT will be fielding two of its latest Viper GTS-R race cars
in the GTE Pro class, competing against the likes of Porsche with its 911 RSR as well as Aston Martin with its Vantage GTE and Ferrari with its 458 Italia GT2.
But the Viper’s entry in Le Mans has a lot more significance than just the continuation of its past performance. This will also be the first time that the SRT brand is competing in international motorsport, and we can think of few better arenas than the festive atmosphere and famous location of the semi-permanent race course southwest of Paris known as the Circuit de la Sarthe.
“Le Mans is a world stage,” SRT CEO Ralph Gilles said in a statement. “The GTS-R has enjoyed great success at Le Mans in the past and we’re excited to start a new chapter of Viper racing at that historic venue.”
SRT isn’t going into the race completely fresh, however. Engineers attended the race last year to formulate a plan should an invitation from the race organizers, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, arrive in the mail.
The only problem was that SRT wasn’t expecting the invite so soon; it wasn’t until August last year that the latest Viper GTS-R made its official track debut, competing in the Ohio leg of the 2012 American Le Mans Series. In response, everyone is giving 110 percent.
SRT has partnered with Riley Technologies, based in Mooresville, North Carolina, on the design-and-build process of the Viper GTS-R race cars. Powering the cars is a V-10 engine that uses the same block and cylinder heads as the production car, with a few upgrades like tubular headers and stronger internals designed for endurance racing. Of course, peak output is restricted well below the stock version’s 640 horsepower due to race regulations.
SRT drivers expected to participate include Marc Goossens, Tommy Kendall, Kuno Wittmer, Dominik Farnbacher and Jonathan Bomarito. Additional drivers will be named closer to the race, scheduled for the weekend starting June 22.
To follow the progress of the team, don’t forget to check out SRT's own online series Beyond The Checkered Flag
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