The SRT (Street and Racing Technology) Motorsports Viper GTS-R teams return to Daytona International Speedway this week to compete in its first Rolex 24 At Daytona since 2000, when a Viper earned the overall victory in the endurance event.
After finishing third in the American Le Mans Series team point standings in 2013, the SRT teams – Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens in the No. 91, as well as Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer in the No. 93, in addition to endurance drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Rob Bell, respectively – enter the new IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship with renewed energy and championship aspirations in just their second full season since returning to competition.
SRT Motorsports Storylines for Daytona
Ready to Strike: Moving to a full-time schedule in 2013 after a four-race program in 2012, the SRT Motorsports teams captured one victory – a win by Farnbacher and Goossens in the No. 91 at Wisconsin’s Road America – and three pole positions during the program’s first full year of factory-backed sports car competition since 2000. In addition to the win and poles, the teams totaled five podium finishes in 2013, showing notable improvement over their results during the partial schedule in 2012.
Endurance Entries: In addition to the regular rotations in the No. 91 and 93 SRT Motorsports Viper GTS-Rs, champion drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Rob Bell will join each team, respectively. Hunter-Reay, the 2012 IndyCar champion, has two podium finishes in seven appearances in the 24-hour race, including an overall runner-up placing last year. Bell, a two-time European Le Mans Series champion in the GT2 class, finished second in the GT class in the 2011 Rolex 24 and has two starts in the race.
24 Hour Tallies: Two drivers on the SRT Motorsports teams have captured GT class victories in the Rolex 24 at Daytona – Bomarito (2010) and Farnbacher (2005). Among the six Viper GTS-R drivers, the group has tallied seven total podium finishes in 31 combined starts in the endurance event. In addition to the Rolex 24, the group has a combined 26 starts with five podium finishes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
When Last in Daytona: The SRT Motorsports entries in this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona mark the first appearance of factory Vipers in the event since they last won an overall victory in 2000. The win, which was captured by drivers Oliver Beretta, Karl Wendlinger and Dominique Dupuy, marked the first-ever overall victory by a production-based American automobile in the 24-hour event. The margin of victory for the V10-powered racer – a little more than half a minute – was the closest finish in the race’s history at the time and another Viper completed the overall podium in third place. In addition to the win, all three Vipers entered in the event led the race at some point.
Riley Dynasty at Daytona: Bill Riley, the team director for SRT Motorsports and vice president and chief engineer for Riley Technologies, has had incredible success in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, including 15 wins in more than 20 years competing in the event since 1987. Riley’s prototype chassis have nine-consecutive victories in the 24-hour event streak that started in 2005. He was also involved in team prototype wins in 1997 and 1999 and a class victory in 2000, as well as three GT triumphs in the 1990s. In addition to Bill Riley’s recent success, his father, Bob Riley, designed two victorious vehicles with Roush Racing in 1984 and 1985.
SRT Motorsports Driver and Team Quotes
Gary Johnson, SRT racing manager
How important is this event for SRT?
“We’re excited to bring SRT Motorsports to Daytona and return factory-backed Viper GTS-Rs to this historic event. The Rolex 24 At Daytona is the pinnacle of sports car racing in America and it’s very important to us to have the SRT brand contending for the wins in this event. When we began discussing our return to sports car racing back in 2011, success in the premier endurance events was a goal for our group and we have put in considerable effort to get to this point. We are looking forward to a successful weekend of competition.”
Dominik Farnbacher, driver, No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R
What makes endurance racing special?
“Twenty-four hour races are usually prestige races. They are well known in the sports car community and if you win a 24-hour race it’s a great team effort because it’s a big challenge for the machines and the drivers. I think from the manufacturer standpoint, it really shows what kind of potential a product has, especially for us – we show how reliable a Viper can be, how quick a Viper can be in a 24-hour race and we are displaying a product SRT is selling, so this is a very important race for the manufacturers. For the driver’s, if you win a 24-hour race – especially the 24 Hours of Daytona because it’s a very old race with tradition – if you win such a race, it’s a good thing in your record books.”
Marc Goossens, driver, No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R
Does your team have championship aspirations?
“I think we do and even if you look at the driver lineups and look around in the paddock I think it’s one of the strongest ones in all cars – not just one car, but in both Vipers. We’ve said it so many times before, Bill Riley (team director) is really good at finding the right people and putting them all together, making them gel together. If we don’t run into trouble – and that’s a big question mark on this track with 67 cars – but I can’t see any reason we can’t be on top.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver, No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R
What do you most enjoy about this event?
“I enjoy this event – everything about it. It’s the right way to kick off the year. I’m just so glad that both series are here together now. It’s really cool to see the ALMS (American Le Mans Series) GT category and the DPs (Daytona Prototypes) out there and the ALMS prototypes all together – this is how it should have been many years ago.”
Jonathan Bomarito, driver, No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R
What are the biggest obstacles in a 24-hour race?
“Probably the biggest challenge any team faces in a 24-hour race is the unknown. You try to have a plan for every scenario that could happen on and off the track, but it never seems to happen exactly as planned. A great team can adapt quickly to what needs to be done to get the car back on track as quickly as possible. To win this race at this level of competition, the car, team and drivers need to be flawless for 24 hours straight.”
How important is this event and the new series for the sports car community?
“The 24 Hours of Daytona is our major race of the year and it’s the first for the new merged series. I think it’s a huge deal that it starts with a bang to keep the existing fans and make many more sports car fans for the future.”
Kuno Wittmer, driver, No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R
Does being a triathlete give you a physical advantage in an endurance race?
“Yes, I have always been an advocate of being physically fit when stepping behind the wheel of a race car. I personally put in over 10 to 12 hours a week on conditioning and accelerating at these three sports (cycling, running and swimming). I have seen big improvements in my career by being fit as it does help a driver in many aspects that he or she needs to tackle. The biggest advantage of being able to compete in triathlons and then into a 24 hour motorsports event is mental toughness – Ironman events teach you mental toughness which drivers need the moment they enter the car.”
Rob Bell, driver, No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R
What does it take to be successful in a 24-hour race?
“A lot of luck – a lot of luck is a great attribute to have, but it’s being sensible. You’ve got to be a fast driver, obviously, but it’s trying to stay out of trouble and look after the car. It’s great being quick in qualifying, but you take risks and if you take the same risks in the race over 24 hours you’re probably going to damage something. It’s being sensible, being quick, looking after the car and trying to bring the car home in one piece. At the end of the day, we’ve got a great driver lineup. They key thing is being sensible initially.”
Bill Riley, SRT Motorsports team director and vice president and chief engineer for Riley Technologies
How do you prepare the teams for a 24-hour race?
“It’s a bit of everything. It’s preparation. It’s being ready for anything. I don’t want to say having luck, but not getting into any trouble and having the drivers in the right mindset and that type of thing. It’s a lot of things. You don’t really have to give too many instructions to the drivers. They run smart, but if they come to the bus stop and it’s clear they’re going to do a strong run through there. We’re not going to tell Dominik (Farnbacher) to let it loose and throw it in there, but at the same time you have to stay on the lead lap because there are going to be cars that have perfect races and don’t break. You have to be one of those cars or at least be ready to be.”
SRT Motorsports Team Lineup for Daytona International Speedway
No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R
Driver: Dominik Farnbacher (Germany)
Driver: Marc Goossens (Belgium)
Driver: Ryan Hunter-Reay (United States)
Lead Engineer: Bill Riley
No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R
Driver: Jonathan Bomarito (United States)
Driver: Kuno Wittmer (Canada)
Driver: Rob Bell (United Kingdom)
Lead Engineer: Matt Bejnarowicz
Name: Rolex 24 At Daytona
Date: Jan. 25-26, 2014
Time: 2:10 p.m. EST for 24 hours
Track: Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Fla.
Broadcast Information: The television broadcast will begin on FOX at 2 p.m. EST on Jan. 25 before moving to FOX Sports 2 at 4 p.m. EST. From 9 p.m. EST through 7 a.m. EST, coverage can be found on IMSA.com before moving to FOX Sports 1 for the remainder of the race. The radio broadcast can be found on MRN affiliates and SiriusXM NASCAR.