SRT Motorsports Pre-Race Report - Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR
With the SRTÂ® (Street and Racing Technology) Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT GTS-Rs riding a recent wave of podium finishes and success, the team returns to Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in the thick of the championship hunt as they prepare for the Oak Tree Grand Prix race weekend, Aug. 22-24.
The Dodge Vipers of SRT Motorsports have tallied six podium finishes in the last four IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship events to surge to second and third in the point standings. The team most-recently took third-place at Wisconsin's Road America with the No. 93 Viper driven by Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer, the same Viper that won the previous race at historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July.
With the recent string of success, Bomarito and Wittmer rank second in the championship standings and sit just eight points behind first place, while Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens are third in the No. 91 Viper.
The two-Viper team now moves on to VIR in an effort to continue its ascent in the standings. While the circuit has received a moderate 'facelift' that will require the drivers to relearn aspects of a familiar layout, the track's high-speed corners and flow should still suit the Viper and teams' driving style. In 2013, Wittmer led early in the VIR race after starting fifth, but the team was later shuffled back in the field following an on-track incident.
The Oak Tree Grand Prix, the ninth event for the GTLM class in the 2014 IMSA schedule, will take place at 4:00 p.m. EDT at Virginia International Speedway on Sunday, Aug. 24. The race will be broadcast live at 4:00 p.m. EDT on FOX Sports 1.
SRT Motorsports Storylines for Virginia International Raceway
WHEN IN WISCONSIN: The Dodge Viper SRT GTS-Rs finished third (No. 93) and fourth (91) in the most-recent IMSA TUDOR Championship race at Wisconsin's Road America. With their result, the No. 93 Viper closed the gap on the championship leader to just eight points, while the No. 91 Viper jumped to third place in the standings. The No. 91 Viper and Dominik Farnbacher led early in the event, but a pit road mishap relegated the team further back in the pack. However, Marc Goossens was able to move back to fourth with a late-race surge that saw the Belgian pass three competitors in the final six minutes of a caution-plagued event. Goossens also recorded the fastest GTLM lap of the race in his Viper.
VIRGINIA VENDETTA: When SRT Motorsports returns to Virginia International Raceway, the team will be seeking a revenge of sorts. In the team's first appearance at the track in 2013, Kuno Wittmer led early in the race after starting fifth and appeared to have a contending car. However, an on-track incident hampered the No. 93 Viper's chances and the team finished ninth. The sister-entry No. 91 Viper finished seventh in the event after racing to as high as second. Now returning to the track with four-straight podium finishes and a recent win, the Vipers are looking to continue their summer success and avenge last year's performance in Virginia.
ULTIMATE VIPER IN VIRGINIA: Only days after claiming a GTD class victory in his Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in July, Ben Keating took his Viper GT3-R to VIR where he won the Ultimate Track Car Challenge. The Viper driver bested 42 other competitors to record the quickest lap on the recently upgraded circuit - a 1:45.394, a time that would have won the GT class pole position for last year's American Le Mans Series race in Virginia.
STRIKING DISTANCE: With just three races remaining in the 2014 IMSA TUDOR Championship, the Viper teams rank second (No. 93) and third (91) in the championship point standings, their highest-ever rank in the team's second full-season of competition. After eight of 11 races for the GTLM class in 2014, the Vipers currently hold 237 and 224 points, respectively, in the team standings, with the No. 93 sitting just eight markers behind the leading team. Bomarito and Wittmer are second in the driver standings with 237 points, while Farnbacher and Goossens sit in third with 224 points. In the manufacturer standings, SRT has moved into second with 245 points, three markers behind first place.
WE'RE GOING STREAKING: The Dodge Viper SRT GTS-Rs have earned eight podium finishes in 2014, the most among the GTLM class, including four-consecutive podium finishes by the No. 93 Viper. The four-podium streak is the longest by a Viper entry in the team's three seasons of competition. With SRT Motorsports tallying podiums in six-of-eight races - including dual podiums with both Vipers at New York's Watkins Glen and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and six podiums in the last four events - the team has three more podium finishes than the next closest manufacturer.
SNAKES SHED SKIN: SRT Motorsports returned to the Dodge Viper's classic livery during the Watkins Glen International race weekend in an effort to honor the Viper's racing heritage. Sporting 'Viper Red' and 'Race White,' the team has now recorded one win, one pole position and six podiums in the same colors 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. The team will continue to utilize the classic livery throughout the 2014 season.
SRT Motorsports Quotes for Virginia International Raceway
Dominik Farnbacher, driver, No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
How do you feel entering VIR?
"As we enter the race weekend, we've closed the point's gap and are now in a pretty good position. Both cars are in the top-three with the 93 Viper second and we're third in the championship. We have to work together as a team to continue that momentum for both cars. At VIR last year, our car was good during the race, but I think we struggled with pit stops. We gave up a few positions back then, but since then we have improved our whole game. I'm looking forward to getting to VIR."
What do you know about the track changes to VIR?
"I know they changed the pit entrance - it's a little different now - and they've done a few corners and widened the track a little bit, so that should help. Listening to Ben Keating (driver of the No. 33 Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R in the GTD class), the Viper GTD driver, he said the track got a little quicker compared to last year and you can run a few corners even faster because it's wider. It should make it fast. We made the GTLM Viper quicker compared to last year, so the speeds should be quicker again."
Marc Goossens, driver, No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
Do you enjoy racing at VIR?
"I've always liked VIR. I lived in North Carolina for a while not too far away from there. I've done a lot of testing there on the different layouts of the track, so I'm looking forward to going back and discovering a new track that's safer, that's faster, that's better and everything that comes with the updates they've made."
What do you think of the changes at VIR?
"It's different and it's changed a lot, but then again I haven't seen it yet. They resurfaced it and made the track wider in some areas. Apparently, it's almost like a completely different track than what we are used to. I know Ben Keating went there and did a record attempt with the GTD Viper, so it's hard to judge it now because everything changed. They obviously changed it for the better. The track needed improvements and it started to lean towards a track where you organized track days and not competitive races of this level. From what I hear, the guys at VIR did a tremendous job of bringing it up another step to organize this level of racing. It's good for the track and it's good to see people are willing to do that to bring the IMSA TUDOR SportsCar series here. I'm looking forward to it."
Jonathan Bomarito, driver, No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
Are you excited to return to VIR?
"Virginia is a fun track. They've done a bunch of improvements around there and to the paddock for the teams. They've widened the track, smoothed it out, resurfaced it and put new curbs in, so the racing is going to be good for the fans, teams and drivers and I'm really looking forward to our visit there."
What do you think of the changes to the circuit?
"The layout is virtually the same, but any time you widen a corner it becomes different - your turn in point, your apex, how you set up for the next corner - and it all kind of changes. I'm anxious to get there and try to regain the flow of the track and see how it feels."
Does the Viper set up well for VIR?
"I think VIR is a good track for us. It's pretty high-speed. It has some good flow to it. We were pretty decent there last year and it's a place that we've been, so hopefully we'll unload well off the truck and be very competitive."
Kuno Wittmer, driver, No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
What remaining circuits best suit the Viper?
"I think the all the remaining races suit the car. We saw last year that the back half of the season was more favorable for us. From midseason on through the end of the season, that's when we started gaining chunks in the championship. And now we're really positioned well in the championship that we're going into favorable tracks for the Viper and the drivers. We all really like the tracks that are coming up next. If everything stays in place, the team keeps working hard and we keep working hard on track and fighting our competitors, we'll be there."
Do you enjoy racing in Virginia?
"I love VIR. VIR is probably one my favorites in North America. I just grew up racing at VIR a lot of times. I have some wins there - a World Challenge win in 2008 there - some podiums and it's just a really fun circuit to race at. It's also a circuit that really suits the Viper very well. I think we'll be very good at VIR."
SRT Motorsports Team Lineup for Virginia International Raceway
No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
Driver: Dominik Farnbacher (Germany)
Driver: Marc Goossens (Belgium)
Lead Engineer: Bill Riley
No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
Driver: Jonathan Bomarito (United States)
Driver: Kuno Wittmer (Canada)
Lead Engineer: Matt Bejnarowicz
Name: Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway (race nine of 11 for GTLM)
Date: Aug. 24, 2014
Time: 4:00 p.m. EDT for two hours and 45 minutes
Track: Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va., 3.27-mile circuit,
TV Broadcast: FOX Sports 1 at 4:00 p.m. EDT