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Viper #2 in class at Sebring

by David Zatz on

After disappointing qualifying runs, the #93 SRT Motorsports Viper GTS-R run by Jonathan Bomarito, Kuno Wittmer and Rob Bell, put together a perfect race in at the 12 Hours of Sebring, scoring a second-place finish and nearly claiming a class victory.

The #91 and #93 cars took turns leading their class in the race; Dominik Farnbacher, Marc Goossens, and Ryan Hunter-Reay’s #91 Viper led twice and ended up with a seventh-place finish.  All three #93 drivers led at various points in the race.

Viper GTS-R 93 at Sebring 2014

The 11th and final caution of the race, 50 minutes from the finish, sent the Viper and most of the competition to the pits for the last time. That gave the edge to the #912 Porsche that had been running second to the #93, only to pit under green just before the yellow flag flew. When the race went green again, the Porsche’s lucky break gave it enough track position to hold off a fast-closing Bomarito. Despite knocking off almost a second a lap on the gap to the Porsche, not enough time remained on the clock for Team SRT to get back to the front.

The #91 fell back when Hunter-Reay spun and backed into the tire wall. The  crew got the Viper back in the race but the team and drivers only had enough time left to recover two of the four laps lost in the delay.

The strategy, according to driver Kuno Wittmer, was to avoid any mistakes in the pit lane and “doing everything we could not to put a scratch on the car. That’s how you win a long distance race and we almost did. When I was out there, I was just running with a big grin on my face the entire time, having fun doing literally qualifying laps back to back to back to back. When we came into pit lane we kept doing small little chassis adjustments for the better and that’s legal, so it’s only fair game.”

Viper GTS-R endurance race 2014

Ryan Hunter-Reay said, “I started out decently and then I was struggling to hang on to the car the entire time. I was doing my best but I just lost the rear of the car braking into Turn 17. I caught it a couple of times, and then just lost it. I got into the tire barrier and continued on. I could feel something wasn’t quite right with the right rear and came in and the diffuser was down on the right rear. That’s a lengthy repair that put us four laps down.”

Update: According to Mike V. and Charles Gilman, the winning Porsche should have received an 80-second penalty in the seventh hour for contact with the #48 Ferrari. Both Porsches, #911 and #912, had contact with the same Ferrari; #912 won the class by around five seconds, but without correction of the error.

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