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SRT Viper to return to Le Mans

by Bill Cawthon on

Viper-LeMans-Web

It’s official: The SRT Viper will return to the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 22-23 this year.

Beth Paretta, SRT’s Director of Marketing and Operations, and SRT Motorsports driver Marc Goossens were in Paris today to officially accept an invitation from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to field two SRT Viper GTS-Rs in the LM GTE Pro class. “The new SRT Viper GTS-R represents a rebirth for us in road racing by bringing an elevated level of technical sophistication to the track,” Paretta said. “The invitation to return to the 24 Heures du Mans gives SRT Motorsports and the SRT Viper GTS-R the opportunity to compete on a stage with the best sports car teams from around the world.”

Vipers finished one-two at the Le Mans in GTS class competition in three consecutive years – 1998 to 2000.

“Racing is truly a part of the illustrious history of Viper and a proving ground for the SRT brand,” SRT CEO Ralph Gilles said. “Historically the Viper GTS-R has enjoyed great success at Le Mans, so we couldn’t be more excited and proud to accept the challenge to return to France and continue composing the next chapter in the history of Viper racing at such an historic venue.”

SRT Motorsports teamed with Riley Technologies of Mooresville, North Carolina on the design-and-build process of the SRT Viper GTS-R. Two identically prepared cars returned to American Le Mans Series competition last year, running in four test-and-tune races to prepare for a full 2013 schedule in the GT class in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patrón.

Joining Goossens for the upcoming season are  Tommy Kendall, Kuno Wittmer, Dominik Farnbacher and Jonathan Bomarito. Additional team announcements will be made later.

Le Mans Viper

The Viper’s successful racing heritage began in 1996 with its first racing entry, the original Viper GTS-R, which earned five international GT championships and the 1997 to 1999 FIA GT championships in addition to the three consecutive one-two finishes at the 24 Heures du Mans in the GTS class. The Viper posted an amazing overall win at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in 2000 – the first for a production-based American car. Viper also captured GTS class and driver’s championships in ALMS competition in 1999 along with the series’ class, manufacturer’s and driver’s championship in 2000 before retiring from the series.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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