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2015 Dodge Viper endurance racing

by Patrick Rall on

While the Chrysler Group did bring an end to their factory endurance racing program immediately following their championship win for the 2014 season, there will be at least one Dodge Viper competing in the 2015 Tudor United SportsCar Championship Series. Former Viper Cup champion Ben Keating will be back with his #33 Dodge Viper GT3-R to take on the Porsche-heavy GT-Daytona class.

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Jeroen Bleekemolen will accompany Mr. Keating in the Riley Motorsports-prepared #33 Viper GT3-R, sponsored by Keating’s company – ViperExchange.com. After Mr. Keating dominated the Viper Cup a few years back, he jumped on the chance to buy the new Viper GT3-R when it was introduced ahead of the 2014 season with co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen.

Mr. Keating and Mr. Bleekemolen came out of the gate with a solid showing in the huge GT-Daytona field in the Rolex 24, but a massive car fire at the 12 Hours of Sebring put the #33 Viper team behind the 8-ball early in the season. Keating’s Viper was consistently in the middle of the pack early in the season and the team improved as the year went on, winning races at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and the Circuit of the Americas en route to an 11th place finish in the GT-D team championship.

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If Keating and Bleekemolen could avoid some of the mechanical issues they ran into early in the 2014 United SportsCar Championship season, the #33 Viper could take a real run at the GT-D class. The Viper GT3-R will be competing with cars from Porsche, BMW, Ferrari and Audi, along with any newcomers who haven’t announced their intentions for the 2015 season.

Fortunately, with the first event coming in less than two weeks, we should soon have a much clearer view of the competition for the Viper endurance racing program in 2015.

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The 2015 Tudor United SportsCar Championship schedule for the GT-Daytona class is:
January 9 – Roar Before the 24
January 25 – Rolex 24
March 21 – 12 Hours of Sebring
May 3 – Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway
May 30 – Detroit Belle Isle
June 28 – Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen
July 25 – Lime Rock Park
August 9 – Road America
August 23 – Virginia International Raceway
September 19 – Circuit of the Americas *
October 3 – Petit LeMans
*-Keating and Bleekemolen won this race in 2014

Unfortunately, while Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen will be attempting to win the GT-Daytona championship in the #33 Dodge Viper GT3-R, the #91 and #93 Viper GTS-R race cars that claimed driver and team championships the GT-LeMans class in 2014 will not be competing in the upcoming 2015 season. When the Chrysler Group announced shortly after the end of the 2014 Tudor season that they were pulling their factory backing of the Viper racing program, the SRT Motorsports Viper GTLM teams were disbanded.

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There had been rumors that non-factory backed race teams would purchase the championship Vipers and make a run at the GTLM championship on their own, but those rumors have proven to be untrue, as the Chrysler Group still owns the #91 and #93 Viper GTS-R race cars sitting at the Riley Technologies shop. It is unclear what they plan to do with these championship Vipers if there is really no intention to return to endurance racing in the near future; they may be retained for the show circuit or put into a warehouse as historical items, perhaps awaiting a rotation at the Chrysler Museum, if it should re-open.

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.

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