As motorsports historians may recall, the erstwhile Dodge Viper had a rather impressive run at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance classic: In its final three factory-backed appearances in the race, from 1998-2000, the Viper won the GTS class—and finished second as well—all three years. So it was clearly with no little of the past that Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of the Chrysler Group’s Motorsports efforts, recently announced that the all-new 2013 SRT Viper GTS-R would make its Le Mans debut in this year’s competition, slated for June 22-23.
“Racing is a cornerstone of Viper’s illustrious history,” said Gilles, also president and CEO of the SRT brand. “Le Mans is a world stage. The GTS-R has enjoyed great success at Le Mans in the past and we’re excited to start a new chapter of Viper racing at that historic venue.”
Helping to reaffirm that kind of French connection will be two 2013 SRT Viper GTR-S race cars, piloted by Marc Goossens, Dominik Farnbacher, Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer. In the perhaps unlikely event those names sound familiar, it’s because those four drivers also campaign the 2013 Viper GTR-S in the American Le Mans Series—in which the team of Farnbacher and Goossens has captured three straight top-five finishes through the first three races of the season.
But because of the challenges posed by 24 hours of continuous racing on one of the longest circuits in the world, Tommy Kendall and Ryan Dalziel will co-drive as well.
Will that new crew also make history with the 2013 SRT Viper GTR-S?
Here’s the lowdown from Russ Ruedisueli, head of SRT Motorsports Engineering: “Everybody on the current team realizes our past success and how Viper teams before us have set a high standard. We can’t help but have that in the back of all of our minds, so we’ll work as hard as ever to hopefully live up to that same standard.”