Chrysler's 2013 SRT Viper isn't in dealer showrooms yet. But two identically-prepared GTS-R race cars will make their racing debut on August 4 in the three-hour American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, near Lexington, Ohio.
"We're thrilled to return to the world-class competition in the American Le Mans Series with our flagship American supercar," said Ralph Gilles, President and CEO – SRT Brand and Motorsports.
"Now the time has finally come to go head-to-head with the best sports car teams from around the world," Gilles said.
Previously part of the Dodge lineup, the new Viper is branded as an SRT product. SRT (Street and Racing Technology) is Chrysler's high performance group – similar to Mercedes-Benz's AMG.
SRT Motorsports has partnered with Riley Technologies, based in Mooresville, N.C., on the design-and-build of the new SRT Viper GTS-R race cars..
Two identical SRT Viper GTS-R cars will compete in the production-based GT class, which consists of production-based, moderately-modified two-wheel-drive race cars.
The SRT Viper GTS-R racers will compete against the Aston Martin Vantage, BMW M3 GT, Corvette C6R, Ferrari F458 Italia, Lotus Evora and Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
The GT class cars share many styling similarities to their showroom brands and by series' rules must have a minimum weight of 1250 kg (2,745 pounds). The cars produce between 450-500 horsepower with top speeds of up to 290 km/h.
Following a limited schedule this season, the SRT Motorsports team will compete full time in the series in 2013.
Three full-time drivers are currently signed to drive the Viper entries. They are: Dominik Farnbacher, from Ansbach,Germany; Marc Goossens from Geel, Belgium; and Kuno Wittmer from Montreal, QC.
InyCar deiver Ryan Hunter-Reay, from Dallas, will join the team for the longer endurance races. Additional driver and team announcements will be forthcoming.
Viper racing heritage
"Racing has been a significant part of the illustrious history of Viper," said Beth Paretta, Director of Marketing and Operations – SRT Brand and Motorsports
Viper's racing heritage began in 1996 with the original GTS-R, which earned five international GT championships and the 1997-1999 FIA GT championships. It also posted an overall win at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in 2000 – the first for a production-based American car.
Viper finished one-two at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in GTS class in three consecutive years – 1998–2000 – and captured GTS class and driver's championships in the American Le Mans Series in 1999 along with the Series' class, manufacturer's and driver's championships in 2000, before retiring from the series.
The Dodge Viper Competition Coupe was introduced in 2003, with a coupe-shaped carbon/Kevlar body and a track-ready chassis, based on the Dodge Viper SRT10. The Viper Competition Coupe captured the 2004 SCCA Speed World Challenge GT title, championships in Formula D Drifting series in 2004 and 2006 and the British GT Championship in 2007 and 2008.
In 2010, the Dodge Viper Cup Series was founded using the limited-edition Dodge Viper ACR-X spec series cars. Now in its third year, the series has been renamed the SRT Viper Cup Series.