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2014 USCR (Sebring 12): SRT Motorsports Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Mar 12, 2014 - 06:02 AM
2014 USCR (Sebring 12): SRT Motorsports Race Preview

SRT ® (Street and Racing Technology) Motorsports returns to Sebring International Raceway for the upcoming 62nd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida, March 15. The team is coming off a third and sixth-place result with the SRT Viper GTS-Rs in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, as well as winning the GTLM-class pole for the event.


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In addition to carrying momentum to the Florida circuit from Daytona International Speedway, SRT Motorsports' appearance in the endurance event will also mark one year since the two-car team started its first full-season of sports car competition.

SRT Motorsports Storylines for Sebring

Started at Sebring: When the SRT Viper GTS-Rs last raced at Sebring in 2013, the SRT Motorsports program was beginning its first-full season of competition after a four-race schedule in 2012. The No. 93 qualified fifth for the 2013 season-opening race and the No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R went on to finish fifth in the event after leading the GT class early in the race. Both the qualifying effort and fifth-place results were bests at the time for SRT Motorsports in just their fifth event, and the team would go on to win one race and five podium finishes during the 2013 season. Including the fifth-place result at Sebring in 2013, a SRT Viper GTS-R has finished fifth or better in 10-of-12 events in the last 12 months.

Best Yet: SRT Motorsports returns to Sebring coming off its best performance in an endurance event in the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Since the SRT Viper GTS-R began racing in 2012, the team has competed in four endurance races - the 2013 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 2013 Petit Le Mans and the 2014 24 Hours of Daytona - and the third and sixth-place showings at Daytona represented the team's top results in an endurance race. In addition to the finishes, the pole-winning lap by Marc Goossens in the No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R established the GTLM qualifying lap record at Daytona International Speedway and the fifth pole for SRT Motorsports.

Endurance Entrants: In addition to the full-time SRT Motorsports lineup of Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens in the No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R and Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer in the No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R, the Vipers will be joined by drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Rob Bell, respectively, for the endurance race at Sebring. Both drivers participated in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. Hunter-Reay, the 2012 IndyCar champion, previously raced with the team in the 2012 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, while the two-time European Le Mans champion Bell made his debut with SRT in the 24-hour race.

Sebring Stats: The six drivers making up the SRT lineup have a combined one win, four podium finishes and nine top-five results in 22 career appearances in the Twelve Hours of Sebring. Hunter-Reay captured a victory in the LMP2 class in the 2011 edition of the endurance race and was the class runner-up in last year's event. In addition to Hunter-Reay's podium results, both Farnbacher and Goossens have appeared on the podium at Sebring.

Dominik Farnbacher, driver, No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R

Are the best opportunities for passing in turns 17 and one at Sebring?

"Exactly, (turns) 17 and one are the best for passing because it's very wide there - it's the widest part of the race track so you can run multiple lines there and that's the best place. Last year, we were strong in 17 and we could out-brake people there. I don't know if we'll still have that advantage. The other teams are not resting - they have improved their cars and they might be good there too, but our Viper is strong. Two of my teammates (Jonathan Bomarito and Marc Goossens) did the Sebring test and said the car was very nice and comfortable to drive."

Marc Goossens, driver, No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R

What makes Sebring a unique challenge?

"Sebring is a different track to any other circuit that we visit. It's long and fast, but also very bumpy which makes it harder to find the ideal set up for both qualifying and the race. It also is a bit tougher on the car, so reliability is key for the 12-hour race, but SRT Motorsports has tested at the track and we feel ready for the challenge."

Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver, No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R

Are you excited to compete at Sebring for the first time with SRT?

"Sebring is my home track and the 12-hour is one of my favorite events of the year - there isn't another race quite like it. I'm really looking forward to getting back in the number 91 SRT Viper after having the pace to win the Daytona 24 hour. I drove my first ever laps in a race car at Sebring when I was 16 - lots of great memories at Sebring. I will be driving my motorcoach up from Fort Lauderdale. We have a big area reserved just inside the track where we set up a few other motorhomes of our friends and family. It has become a tradition. We'll have the BBQ going around the clock I'm sure."

Are the varied rubber compounds on the track a variable at Sebring?

"I was just at Sebring testing the IndyCar and there was almost no IndyCar rubber down at all. It was very slick, so hopefully that won't come into play at all. The reason why different types of rubber create potential challenges is because IndyCar uses a different compound and type of rubber compared to the SRT Viper's Michelin rubber. Sometimes differing rubber compounds laid down on the track don't work well with a completely different compound and material being used on the race car."

Jonathan Bomarito, driver, No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R Do you enjoy the Sebring race?

"I'm really looking forward to Sebring. It's an awesome event and a lot of fun. The team has been working really hard and we had a pretty successful test a few weeks ago. It's a very difficult race, but I think we have a good shot and everybody is focused and ready."

Is Sebring more physically demanding than the Daytona race?

"It's 12 hours - it's half of Daytona's 24 hours - but it might be equally as hard. I think it's probably even harder - Bill (Riley, lead engineer) would know better - on the actual mechanical side of things. But from what the driver goes through and the forces through your body and the bumps over a lap, it's a lot more harsh than Daytona. Everything just takes a beating at Sebring."

Kuno Wittmer, driver, No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R

Do the varying rubber compounds on the track impact the feel of the track?

"Definitely, as we go on during the race week, the car's characteristics will change. As we wear down the IndyCar rubber from a portion of the circuit, we will continue to go faster session over session as we build up the track with our rubber. This is very normal at Sebring. In the first couple practice sessions, it will be a little tricky to adapt in changing rubber patches."

Rob Bell, driver, No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R

Does the physicality of Sebring make it unique?

"That's part of it. That's one of the thrills of it - it is different from any other circuit I've driven purely because it's pretty tough physically. I've done Sebring four times and I've gone away each time with a pretty sore neck, so physically it's pretty tough. It's the same - what we feel as a driver, if we're finding it tough for sure the car is. That's why historically a lot of teams have done Sebring to test for Le Mans because it's probably the hardest race there is other than the 24."

Bill Riley, lead engineer, No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R, and vice president and chief engineer for Riley Technologies

Is this still an endurance race from a strategy perspective?

"With the way the rules are right now in IMSA, it does make it a bit more of an endurance race than a sprint race because before you were hell bent to put people a lap down. And as soon as you put them a lap down and a yellow flag came out, they were done. They weren't going to get their lap back unless you had a problem. And that's what kind of happened to us at Petit Le Mans - we had the fastest car, we got two laps down and that was it. But now, if you stay on the lead lap with three hours to go, four hours to go you're going to be in position for a win if you have a fast enough car."

Russ Ruedisueli, Head of SRT Motorsports engineering

How do you transition from Daytona to Sebring?

"After a 24-hour race, the cars effectively get totally rebuilt. The cars are taken down completely - we change the radiators, the hoses, go through all of the electronics and the team will take a look at the log and the data that was grabbed during the race to see if we had any issues. The team also reads that stuff along the way during the race to sort of come up with a checklist of things that we need to look at, what we are going to work on when we get back to the shop. The bodywork, which is all carbon, gets repainted because at Daytona the sand and high speeds just erode everything. We have a rotation of motors - a 24-hour motor will run one race and it gets changed versus the sprint races where a motor will run several races in a row."

Do you change your aero package for Sebring?

"The way the rules are setup, there's not really much change you can make in the aero package, other than changing the angle of attack in the back. We will run more ride height at Sebring because it is so bumpy, and getting the shocks and the springs to work is the biggest thing. The guys worked on that at the test a few weeks ago, and they think they made some progress on that, but it is all about traction at Sebring. It is lower speed and it is so darn bumpy, especially that last turn, and even turn one is bumpy."

SRT Motorsports Team Lineup for Sebring International Raceway

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

Race Information

Name: Twelve Hours of Sebring (race two of 11 for GTLM)

Date: March 15, 2014

Time: 10:15 a.m. EST for 12 hours

Track: Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla.

Broadcast Information:The television broadcast will begin on FOX Sports 1 at 10:00 a.m. EST and will move to IMSA.com at 1:00 p.m. EST, where the broadcast will continue to feature the FOX announcers. FOX Sports 1 will feature a three-hour highlight show on Sunday, March 16 at 8:30 a.m. EST. For more information, go to DriveSRT.com or IMSA.com.

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