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Le Mans: both Vipers finish

by David Zatz on

When Viper first visited the 24 Hours of Le Mans, over a decade ago, Team ORECA dominated the tracks, winning first and second in their classes and eventually scoring an overall win.

vipers

This year, with tougher competition, mandated power restrictors, an older basic design, and less time for preparation, the Vipers did not do nearly as well, but they did finish the race. Ferrari finished fifth, seventh, and tenth in GTE Pro, with Vipers in eighth and ninth place. In GTE AM, Ferraris finished second, third, tenth, twelfth, and thirteenth.  In both classes, Porsches won.

“Hemi Magnum” wrote, “

After years of absence, Viper finally made its way back to the hallowed ground of Le Mans. While it wasn’t the ideal debut of going out there and kicking everyone’s tail, the whole SRT Motorsports team, from engineers to drivers and everyone in between, showed what they were made of. They brought two pieces that were essentially bulletproof. While cars ahead and behind succumbed to engine problems or accidents, both Vipers kept plugging along, every lap gaining confidence, knowledge, and speed.

That’s not to say they weren’t put to the test, though. Both Vipers faced their share of moments, from punctured tires and leaving doors ajar after a pit stop, to spinning in the gravel and dealing with broken alternators, the two teams were unshaken in their determination to complete the full 24 hours – a victory in itself, especially for a team that hasn’t been on the track a full year.

It seemed as if they were starting from behind before the race even started. Test and practice sessions were marred by red flag conditions, which took valuable track time from the SRT team; and the controversial “restrictor”  seemed to hurt Viper more than the other guys.

SRT drivers raved about Viper’s comfort, balance and handling to the SPEED crew, but the shortfall seems to have come in the straightaway speed, hurt by the mandated restrictor. Whether Viper is allowed more breathing room for next year remains to be seen, but it’s a safe bet that this will be a key area of further development. Even so, Viper remained consistent as the race went on, and managed to close the gap on its closest competitors, a testament to the talent of the drivers and engineers and the never-give-up attitude that this race exudes.

While finishing the race in the top ten is a huge accomplishment, Viper belongs at the top of the podium, and this was only the first step of a return to glory.  Just imagine what they could accomplish if they get a full practice session in.

Driver Kuno Wittmer said before the race began, “It’s definitely tough to come to Le Mans for the first time and not have the track time that all the drivers want allocated to them. When you have unfortunate situations with the rain going on and off today and cars on track creating red flag situations, it’s definitely a little bit more difficult.”

For our forum coverage, visit this thread.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304


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