It’s official. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) extended an invitation to SRT® Motorsports to field a pair of SRT Viper GTS-R race cars in the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans. “And we graciously accept,” said Beth Paretta, Director of Marketing and Operations, SRT Brand and Motorsports. Participation in the prestigious race is contingent upon the invitation from ACO, the official sanctioning body of the Le Mans race and one of the oldest sanctioning bodies in motorsports.

“We are very excited to receive an invitation to this important race,” said Paretta. “After a break of more than a decade, we’re thrilled to have been considered again.”

The announcement comes as the team is busy testing and preparing for a full-time return to the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) in 2013.

“This is another step in an amazingly challenging plan to return the SRT Viper to the world stage of endurance racing,” noted Paretta. “It began with our return to ALMS competition last August, and continued with the development of our cars during the following races. We received the invitation for Le Mans, and now we need to get to work. It’s a huge commitment for such a young race program, but we know we have the right team and amazing cars in place.”

The last time Viper competed at Le Mans was 2000. Viper took first and second in the very competitive GTS class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, won the GT world title, won the 2000 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona overall – yes, overall – and went on to win every race in the ALMS championship to take that title in its final racing season in the series.

“Viper has such a storied history at Le Mans,” noted Paretta. “This amazing supercar has set such an incredibly high standard with past success that we will be working plenty of overtime to prepare.”

The Viper GTS-R was victorious at Le Mans three straight years in the GTS class, from 1998-2000. In 1998, Viper took the top two spots on the podium while each of the four Vipers entered finished seventh or better. Real dominance had begun. Then, in 1999, Viper GTS-Rs swept the top six spots in GTS. In its final season of 24 Hours of Le Mans competition in 2000, Vipers finished 1-2 again in GTS. But the game has changed and the work ahead is momentus.

The core team of drivers from 2012 will return to the SRT Viper GTS-R team, including Jonathan Bomarito, Dominik Farnbacher, Marc Goossens, Tommy Kendall and Kuno Wittmer. A sixth driver will be named in the coming weeks. Fans can look forward to an all-new in-depth look at the SRT Viper GTS-R race program on set to launch in March, in time for the ALMS 12 Hours of Sebring.

[Courtesy of driveSRT]