Saturday, July 26, 2014

No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R Captures GTLM Win at Brickyard Grand Prix

No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R Captures GTLM Win at Brickyard Grand Prix

July 25, 2014 , Indianapolis - SRT (Street and Racing Technology) Motorsports teammates Kuno Wittmer and Jonathan Bomarito co-drove to a major victory in the No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R in the Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday.

Closing-driver Bomarito took the lead just under an hour from the race’s end and crossed the finish line with a 10.789-second margin of victory.

The win, which came in the first major race appearance for the Dodge Viper SRT at Indianapolis, was the team’s first in the new IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and second since returning to major sports car racing in 2012.

Wittmer started from third on the grid and overcame a few bumps, body blows and close calls to the No. 93 in a very aggressive opening hour of the race. He pitted 45 minutes into the race from fourth place and Bomarito quickly moved into contention for the lead during a double driving stint to the finish. He moved into the lead just before the team’s final stop and great pit work by the SRT Motorsports crew kept him in first place when he returned to the track to take the checkered flag.

Dominik Farnbacher started alongside the No. 93 from fourth on the grid, but the No. 91 TI Automotive Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R team wasn’t as lucky as their teammates in avoiding trouble. A Mazda Prototype side-slammed the No. 91, which knocked the right-side door loose and ultimately off of the Viper. Further blows came when Farnbacher drove upon a multiple car incident and got caught up in the melee, causing heavy damage to the right front end. The No. 91 team also had to overcome a costly 60-second stop-and-hold penalty when they were forced to enter a closed pit lane to make the door repairs.

Quick-thinking strategy saw the No. 91 fall only one lap down as the team called closing-driver Marc Goossens to the pits three times in quick succession for repairs during a lengthy yellow-flag period. The No. 91 ultimately needed another caution period to have a chance of getting back on the lead lap, but the closing hour of the race ran green to the end. Goossens crossed the finish line in eighth place.

The milestone Indianapolis victory continues a recent run of success for SRT Motorsports. Indy marked the third-straight race in which at least one GTLM Viper reached the victory lane podium, and they came to the Brickyard with a two-race double-podium streak that saw SRT finish second and third in the preceding races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.

Wittmer also scored a one-off GT victory in a Viper GT3-R in last Sunday’s World Challenge race on the streets of Toronto.  Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen also won in the GTD class in a GT3-R at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, in addition to a third-place class finish today.

The first SRT Motorsports victory came when Farnbacher and Goossens won last year at Wisconsin’s Road America, which is the next race on the 2014 IMSA TUDOR Championship schedule.

SRT Motorsports next races at Road America on Sunday, Aug. 10. The competition on the four-mile circuit is the eighth race of the 2014 season for the IMSA TUDOR Championship’s GTLM class. The race can be seen on FOX Sports 1 at 5:30 p.m. CDT.

SRT Motorsports Driver and Team Quotes

Jonathan Bomarito, driver, No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
How was the final 30 minutes of the race?
“It took forever. The last half hour of the race felt like a triple stint at Le Mans. It was forever. Every lap I was asking, ‘How big is the gap?’ The guys did an amazing job. The guys on the pit box made some adjustments to the Viper after our first pit stop and we made a gain. Great pit stop – that was a gain. Everything they did today was perfect. Kuno was perfect and I was able to hold onto it.”

How has this team been able to climb to the top of the podium?
“You couldn’t ask for more than that. We had a third in the Six Hour at Watkins Glen, a second at Mosport and a first in Indy and we kissed the bricks with the whole team. That momentum, those memories and that drive that those guys are going to take from this event is hopefully going to push us harder for the rest of the season.”

What was it like to win after finishing second in 2012?
“I was second in 2012 and, I have to tell you, I was pretty jealous watching those guys kiss the bricks. To come back here and to experience that first hand with the team – everybody out there, everybody that was a part of this team was out there kissing the bricks and that’s just memories that will last a lifetime for everybody. Very, very special. It’s great momentum. We have three podiums in a row. We’re second in the championship. We made up points on the leading car and hopefully that drives everybody at SRT to push even harder between now and the next race at Road America.”

Kuno Wittmer, driver, No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
How does it feel to win in Indianapolis?
“This is just spectacular. All the effort the team puts in during the off-season and in the season and during the short spans in the races, it’s starting to pay off. I didn’t think we could keep this momentum going, but I have faith in the team and they have faith in the drivers and we’re just becoming very lethal out there as one team. It’s not a matter of performance on track – we weren’t the quickest car on track – but it’s about our package and getting better as a team. We killed everybody on pit stops and that right there takes a lot of work. Hat’s off to the entire team. I’m so proud and overwhelmed with emotions right now. We’ve got three podiums in a row and this win is the sweetest of the bunch.”

What kind of momentum is this team carrying right now?
“If you look at the last four weeks, if you look at them all, that’s five podiums in a row and that’s a lot of success midseason. We have some tracks coming up that are good for the Viper and personally for our drivers – tracks that we’ve had a lot of success at – and I’d like to say that the championship is winding down, but it’s not at all. We have to work even harder and keep the other teams behind us.”

What did it take to get to this point?
“I think with the amount of focus that everybody has been putting into this program from the get go in 2012, everything is coming together ever so slowly and it has started to show the last three races. We’ve been scoring podiums. Can we keep this momentum going? That’s always the question. We always try to work harder, harder, harder and here we are in first. It’s the Brickyard. It’s special. You don’t get to kiss the bricks every day. It’s definitely really special. Today we got off to a good start. I noticed in the first stint I took part in, it was going to be a very aggressive and a lot of contact between competitors. It was all about being smart. It was a two hour and 45 minutes race, but a lot of competitors treated it more as a 25-minute race. We had to keep our nose clean, which we did. I turned the car over to Jonathan and he just drove a brilliant two stints. It was a team effort and, on a personal note, I’d like to dedicate this race to my unborn son, who is expected to come home in about two weeks.”

What did you think of Jonathan’s performance?
“The skill level that my teammates have is just astronomical. The last stint that Jonathan did was just mind blowing. I think I was having a seizure watching it.”

Dominik Farnbacher, driver, No. 91 TI Automotive Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
How was your race?
“It was good because we finished the race despite a hard hit and we ended only a lap or two down. Most importantly, I want to say congratulations to the 93 team. They deserved the victory. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any better because two times there was contact with our car. We blew off our door with the first hit by a Mazda and then the second incident was with a prototype that spun right in front of me. There was nowhere to go and it was a very hard hit. After that, the carbon parts were cutting the tire. We had to come in and change the tire and repair the body work and, on top of that, we got a 60-second penalty for working while the pit was closed, so that was a bummer. It is what it is and the next race we’ll do better.”

Marc Goossens, driver, No. 91 TI Automotive Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
How was your race?
“I think the car was running really good all race long. I was on a little island there being way back and not being able to get that lap back. Unfortunately, we had to do our stop, then serve a penalty and had to come back in. I understand those guys are having troubles of their own, but they shouldn’t be fighting other cars that are racing for position. Unfortunately, we got hit first with the door. We had to change the nose. Luck wasn’t on our side, but it shows what a great team we have if you see how the guys fought hard to rebuild the car and get it in shape for me to do the lap times that I was doing once the car was fixed. It shows what a great team SRT Motorsports is and I think the Dodge Viper was running strong, but you need as luck as well. Unfortunately, they had some cautions at the beginning and one more yellow is all it would have taken for us to get the lap back and then it’s a different story, but it wasn’t meant to be for us today. I’m proud to see the 93 guys get the win.”

Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of SRT Motorsports
How does it feel to win in Indianapolis?
“This is incredible and I can’t explain how proud I am of the entire team. To have SRT Motorsports and the Dodge Viper take the checkered flag at a historic venue like this, it really can’t get much better. Jonathan and Kuno did such a tremendous job today and the entire team was impressive with the pit stops, strategy and maintaining the lead. We’ve had some solid results this year, but now we are where we want to be – we’ve shown that have what it takes to put the Viper GTS-R back in the winner’s circle and we’re eager to continue riding this wave of momentum. To take the win at Indy after a pair of double-podium results is a pretty impressive three-race stretch for SRT Motorsports.”

Beth Paretta, SRT Motorsports marketing director
What does it mean to win in Indianapolis?
“We’re just over the moon. We’ve been working so hard and really just hoping that we’d have a race go our way and what better place to have it happen than at the Brickyard.”

How has this team had so much success of late?
“I think you can really see the progress that we’ve made. Today, with having some early race skirmishes, you saw our pit stops and the team was great. As we say, this class is so tight that it’s really about making the fewest mistakes and I think we’re getting better at that. The car has always been great, durable and we’re getting smarter. We’re learning. I think now the whole team is really coming together and we’re really excited.”

Gary Johnson, SRT Motorsports racing manager
What did you think of the win?
“It’s really great to have the SRT team do so well at this event. It was an immense effort by the entire team. The drivers did a beautiful job and kept the car fairly clean and ended up taking it all home at the end. It was really cool to see the whole team kneeling down and kissing the bricks. It’s great. Kuno is coming off a high from the World Challenge win in Toronto and did a great job.”

Dick Winkles, SRT Motorsports powertrain manager
What does this win mean to you?
“For me, the last time I was here was 1991 with the Viper Indy 500 pace car. Carroll Shelby was with us all month and drove it. It’s been 23 years and the Viper was very special to be there back then and now to come back here and win with the Viper in this race, it’s really cool. It’s really special.”

Are you pleased with your engine performance?
“We’re still struggling a little bit with some of the systems in the car. It’s a new car and we’re still refining it a little bit. The engines have been very durable. They’ve performed pretty well all things considered since they’re restricted so much. We’ll keep working at it and make them better yet.”

Matt Bejnarowicz, lead engineer, No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
Is it special to capture your first win with the No. 93 Viper team? 
“I’m so excited it’s hard to put into words. The team worked hard and the drivers did an awesome job. This is the first win for the 93 guys and they deserve it – they’re all my heroes. What won the race for us was consistency, reliability and flawless performance. They were a lot of fast cars out there, but there was a lot of attrition and cars getting into trouble and the 93 guys managed to steer clear of most of that and the team put us in front with the last pit stop. As usual, it was a team effort needed and we managed to pull it off.”

Were you calm during the final laps?
“I was freaking out to be totally honest. I had the jitters. I shouldn’t have had that Red Bull because I didn’t need it. If I didn’t show it, I could have easily been chewing my nails off. We were fortunate and got a pretty big lead and it was pretty much ours to lose. I was pretty nervous to be honest with you. I was just trying to keep calm, keep the crew calm and keep the driver focused, but I was a mess inside for sure.”

Bill Riley, lead engineer, No. 91 TI Automotive Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
How does it feel to see the No. 93 Viper win?
“It was great. It’s so amazing to get the win for the 93 Viper, especially at the Brickyard – you can’t beat that. It was a good day and a great day for the 93 guys. They deserved it. They’ve had a hard time the last two years and always had some bad luck bite them, but not today.”

How do you move forward with this momentum?
“We’ve had a great two weeks with all the Vipers running and we’re just going to keep that rolling straight into Road America.”

About SRT Motorsports
SRT Motorsports has partnered with Riley Technologies, based in Mooresville, N.C., on the design and build of the Dodge Viper GTS-R race cars. Two identical Viper GTS-Rs compete in the production-based GT Le Mans (GTLM) class in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, where the various GTLM class entrants share many styling similarities to their showroom brands.