SRT Motorsports Pre-Race Report - Sahlen's Six Hours Of The Glen
After strong results in the year's first two endurance races that opened the 2014 season, SRT Â® (Street and Racing Technology) Motorsports is aiming for continued success in the longer events as the team makes its first appearance at New York's Watkins Glen International circuit for the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen on Sunday, June 29.
The two-entry SRT Motorsports team tallied a pair of podium finishes in the season opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring - including a runner-up result by the No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R in Sebring and a third-place finish by the No. 91 in the 24-hour race. But the team was unable to match the early-season success in a pair of sprint races that followed and most recently finished sixth and seventh in the Monterey Grand Prix.
However, the four-driver Viper team - including Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens in the No. 91 and Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer in the No. 93 - tested at the 3.4-mile New York track in May and appears poised to capitalize on the same strengths and confidence they showed in the early-year endurance contests.
"I think we can look forward to having a pretty good race given that the Dodge Viper GTS-R is really good over a long distance," explained Wittmer. "We saw that in Daytona where we finished very well. At Sebring, we unfortunately started at the rear, but we finished second on the podium and that was over 12 hours. Six hours is the cut-off limit for long distance versus sprint races and I think that we can do some good there and get a pretty good result."
In addition to entering the Watkins Glen race weekend with new information and confidence, the team will also feature a new classic look. Both Dodge Viper SRT GTS-Rs will compete in 'Viper Red' and 'Race White,' the same colors worn by previous Dodge Viper champions, for the duration of the 2014 season to honor the Viper's racing heritage and Dodge's 100th anniversary.
The Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen marks the third event of the North American Endurance Cup (NAEC), a four-race challenge within the 2014 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule, and the SRT Motorsports teams currently rank fourth (91) and fifth (93) in the competition.
The Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen, the fifth event for the GTLM class in the 2014 IMSA schedule, will be broadcast live from Watkins Glen International this Sunday, June 29 at 11:00 a.m. EDT on FOX Sports 1.
SRT Motorsports Storylines for Watkins Glen
MOST RECENTLY: SRT Motorsports finished sixth (91) and seventh (93) in the Monterey Grand Prix at California's Laguna Seca circuit in late May. The No. 93 Viper GTS-R raced to as high as fourth in the event, but lost time and track position during a pit road mishap. With Monterey-native Jonathan Bomarito behind the wheel during the second leg of the race, the No. 93 team rallied to race their way up to seventh.
SNAKES SHED SKIN: SRT Motorsports will honor the Dodge Viper's racing heritage by molting its 'skin' and returning to the Viper's classic red and white livery for Watkins Glen. The Dodge Viper SRT GTS-Rs will compete in 'Viper Red' and 'Race White' for the duration of the 2014 IMSA TUDOR season. The classic colors are the same worn by Dodge Viper entries that took the overall victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2000, a GTS class win in the 2000 24 Hours of Le Mans, and American Le Mans Series (ALMS) championships in 1999 and 2000.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: SRT driver Kuno Wittmer is from Montreal and considers Watkins Glen International to be his second home track. The driver of the No. 93 Viper SRT GTS-R grew up racing in the region and often competed at The Glen. Wittmer first raced at the track in 2003 in a North American Formula Renault race. He finished second at Watkins Glen in 2010 when a friend, Jeff Courtney, let Wittmer borrow his Viper after the Montreal native wrecked during qualifying for a Pirelli World Challenge GT race.
FIRST TIMERS: The 2014 Shalen's Six Hours or The Glen marks the first race for SRT Motorsports at the famed New York circuit. The Viper team competed in the ALMS the past two seasons and did not race at the 3.4-mile track. With ALMS and GRAND-AM Road Racing merged for 2014, SRT Motorsports will now contend for its first checkered flag at The Glen. All four SRT drivers participated in a two-day test at the track in May to prepare for the team's first competition at the circuit.
DODGE WIN AT THE GLEN: While this year's Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen is the first appearance by the current SRT Motorsports team at the New York circuit, Dodge captured a win at Watkins Glen International in 2011 when Kurt Busch piloted a Dodge Challenger R/T to victory lane in a NASCAR Nationwide Series event. Busch's win at The Glen, in which he led 37-of-85 laps en route to the checkered flag, and SRT Motorsports' victory at Wisconsin's Road America in 2013 mark Dodge and SRT's two most-recent major road course triumphs.
SRT POINTS PRIMER: After four of 11 races for the IMSA TUDOR GTLM class, the Viper SRT GTS-Rs rank sixth (91) and eighth (93) in the team standings with 107 and 106 points, respectively. Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens are fifth in the driver standings with 107 points, while Bomarito and Wittmer sit in sixth with 106 points. In the manufacturer standings, SRT ranks fourth with 116 points, 12 behind first place.
SRT Quotes for Watkins Glen
Marc Goossens, driver, No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
How did you feel after the two-day test at Watkins Glen International?
"My feeling is that we were running well, although we were not the fastest car yet. But then again, things might change when we get back for the race weekend, depending on weather forecast and so on. We had some rain and a fairly cold track for the test, so we'll see what conditions what face during the race."
Are you excited to race in the classic Viper colors? "I think it is great to see the Viper Red and Race White stripes back on track. I'm sure the racing community will love the return of this Viper livery and I remember the past Vipers in these colors and their successes at Le Mans, Daytona and in American Le Mans. We're hopeful we can soon bring the red and white Vipers back to the top step of the podium."
Dominik Farnbacher, driver, No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
What makes Watkins Glen International challenging?
"The thing is the speed around the track is very high - among the highest we race on - and it seems like it's very fast and there's not really a slow corner anywhere. The surface is not very grippy, you slide a lot, there are position changes and it's like the wall is right there everywhere, so you don't want to make a mistake. You want to push, but at the same time you want to save the car because it's quite a long race. There's a lot high-speed blind entry corners. You brake into them late and carry a lot of speed, but if there's a little bit of water or oil you can end up in the wall. It's a dangerous track, but I like it. It's a track that will separate the men from the boys."
How do you strategize for a six-hour race?
"Usually in a six-hour race, one driver does two double stints and other guy does one double stint. We have to decide who is better suited for the task - in the No. 91 Viper, we have to decide if Marc (Goossens) wants to do two double stints or if I should. After qualifying, we'll find out who feels more comfortable and communicate, but all of our SRT drivers are on the same level, so it doesn't matter who it is because we all trust each other."
Jonathan Bomarito, driver, No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
What do you like about Watkins Glen International?
"Watkins Glen is a technical, fast and challenging course that is going to make for some great racing in the six-hour race. I really enjoy the track and am looking forward to the race. We expect to be competitive. We still need a little speed compared to a few cars at the test, but the team has been working really hard since then to have what we need to fight for our first win in the 2014 season."
Kuno Wittmer, driver, No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
Do you enjoy racing at Watkins Glen International?
"It's one of my favorite circuits as a driver. It's a circuit that I've been racing at since 2003 and I've had very good races there, I've had memorable races there, I've had races I wanted to forget and big wrecks and small wrecks - I've had every sort of possible race there. It's a race track that's close to home, so it's considered my home away from home."
Did the test help give them confidence for the Watkins Glen race?
"I'm looking forward to the race. We feel confident. It's going to be a difficult race, a long race - six hours is definitely not a two-hour like Laguna (Seca) or Long Beach in the last two events. Given it's a longer race, different strategies apply and you need a different car setup to survive six hours over the grueling hills of the Watkins Glen raceway. It's definitely an extremely difficult race physically on the driver's body, as there's a lot of G-force with these modern day GTLM cars, especially the Viper. You're producing a lot G-force constantly throughout the entire lap. It's going to be very difficult, but we'll definitely give our competition a run for their money."
Matt Bejnarowicz, lead engineer, No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
What makes Watkins Glen International a technically challenging track?
"The track is very fast with very high speed corners. It's also a track that rewards heavy use of curbing. The car needs to be set up to take the curbing, but at the same time support the high downforce loads and provide a solid platform to give the driver confidence. The car will be fast if the driver is confident and comfortable - the penalty at Watkins for mistakes will come at a premium so its absolutely critical the driver has the confidence to charge the corners hard."
SRT Motorsports Team Lineup for Watkins Glen
No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R
Driver: Dominik Farnbacher (Germany)
Driver: Marc Goossens (Belgium)
Lead Engineer: Bill Riley
No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R Driver
Jonathan Bomarito (United States)
Driver: Kuno Wittmer (Canada)
Lead Engineer: Matt Bejnarowicz
Name: Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen Int. (race five of 11 for GTLM)
Date: June 29, 2014 Time: 11:15 a.m. EDT for six hours
Track: Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y., 3.4 miles
Broadcast Information: FOX Sports 1 live at 11:00 a.m. EDT