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SRT Sending Pair Of Vipers Back To Le Mans In 2013

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, February 1 2013

Dodge Vipers will return to Le Mans this year.

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Dodge Vipers will make a return to the most prestigious endurance road race in the world this year as they have received an invitation to compete at the 24-hour race at Le Mans.

Two Vipers GTS-Rs, backed by Chrysler’s SRT Motorsports wing, will make the trip. They will compete in the LM GTE Pro class at Le Mans, which is scheduled for June 22-23.

The announcement that SRT had accepted an invitation from the Automobie Club de l’Ouest – the Le Mans event’s organizer – was made during a teleconference with the media on Friday. Making the announcement was Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of the SRT brand and motorsports.

“Racing is truly a part of the illustrious history of Viper and a proving ground for the SRT brand,” Gilles said. “Historically the Viper GTS-R has enjoyed great success at Le Mans, so we couldn’t be more excited and proud to accept the challenge to return to France and continue composing the next chapter in the history of Viper racing at such an historic venue.”

Aiding the effort at Le Mans will be Riley Technologies, the longtime and highly successful sports car racing operation which aided in design and constructed the new SRT GTS-R.

Included in the driver lineup are Tommy Kendall, Marc Goossens, Kuno Wittmer, Dominik Farnbacher and Jonathan Bomarito. One more driver is expected to be added to that lineup.

In the 1990s, Vipers were major players in international endurance racing. Starting in 1998, GTS-Rs won three straight Le Mans GTS championships at Le Mans.

After a multi-year absence from the sport, factory-backed Vipers returned to racing last summer when SRT entered cars in the American Le Mans Series event at Mid-Ohio. From there, Vipers competed at other ALMS events.

The plan is to compete in all ALMS races in 2013, beginning with next month’s 12-hour race at Sebring.

During Friday’s press conference, Gilles said that the Le Mans effort will not include any superstar drivers. He was obviously excluding Kendall.

Kendall began his career competing in the IMSA Camel GT Series in the early 1980s and won titles in 1986 and 1987. But he is perhaps most recognized for dominating the SCCA Trans-Am Series during the 1990s. Kendall won four championships during his decade of dominance.

His best season behind the wheel came in 1997 when he won 11 consecutive races (of a 13-race schedule) and 11 consecutive poles to win the series title in a Ford Mustang fielded by Jack Roush. In 1995 Kendall teamed with actor Paul Newman and NASCAR driver Mark Martin to win the 24 Hours of Daytona. Kendall also represented the series in the International Race of Champions (IROC) in six seasons (1991, 1994-1998).

Kendall also made 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts over a 10-year span from 1987-1998 as a road course specialist.

Kendall came out of retirement at age 45 to drive a Viper last year.

(This story will be updated shortly)

2013 Le Mans 24 Hours entry list, with team, car and one of its driver:

LMP1

1. Audi Sport Team Joest/Audi/Andre Lotterer

2. Audi Sport Team Joest /Audi/ Tom Kristensen

3. Audi Sport Team Joest/Audi/ Marc Gene

7. Toyota Racing/Toyota/Alex Wurz

8. Toyota Racing/Toyota/Anthony Davidson

12. Rebellion Racing/Lola-Toyota/Nicolas Prost

13. Rebellion Racing/Lola-Toyota/Neel Jani

21. Strakka Racing/HPD-Honda/Nick Leventis

LMP2

24. OAK Racing/Morgan-Nissan/Jacques Nicolet

25. Delta-ADR/ORECA-Nissan/John Martin

26. G-Drive Racing/ORECA-Nissan/Roman Rusinov

27. Sebastien Loeb Racing/ORECA-Nissan/Franck Montagny

28. Gulf Racing Middle East/Lola-Nissan/Fabien Giroix

29. Gulf Racing Middle East/Lola-Nissan/Frederic Fatien

30. HVM Status GP/Lola-Judd/Jonathan Kennard

31. Lotus/Lotus/Kevin Weeda

32. Lotus/Lotus/Thomas Holzer

33. Level 5 Motorsports/HPD-Honda/Scott Tucker

35. OAK Racing/Morgan-Nissan/Olivier Pla

36. Signatech/ORECA-NIssan/Franck Maillieux

38. Jota Sport/Zytek-Nissan/Simon Dolan

40. Boutsen Ginion Racing/ORECA-Nissan/Koen Wauters

41. Greaves Motorsport/Zytek-Nissan/Christian Zugel

42. Greaves Motorsport/Zytek-Nissan/Tom Kimber-Smith

44. Starworks Motorsport/HPD-Honda/Alex Popow

45. OAK Racing/Morgan-Nissan/David Heinemeier Hansson

46. Thiriet by TDS/ORECA-Nissan/Piere Thiriet

47. KCMG/Morgan-Nissan/Alexandre Imperatori

48. Murphy Prototypes/ORECA-Nissan/Brendon Hartley

GTE Pro

51. AF Corse/Ferrari/Gianmaria Bruni

66. JMW Motorsport/Ferrari/Tim Sugden

71. AF Corse/Ferrari/Olivier Beretta

73. Corvette Racing/Corvette/Antonio Garcia

74. Corvette Racing/Corvette/Oliver Gavin

91. Porsche AG Team Manthey/Porsche/Marc Lieb

92. Porsche AG Team Manthey/Porsche/Jorg Bergmeister

93. SRT Motorsports/Viper/Marco Goossens

94. SRT Motorsports/Viper/Dominik Farnbacher

97. Aston Martin Racing/Aston Martin/Darren Turner

99. Aston Martin Racing/Aston Martin/Stefan Mucke

GTE Am

50. Larbre Competition/Corvette/Patrick Bornhauser

54. AF Corse/Ferrari/Yannick Mallegol

55. AF Corse/Ferrari/Piergiuseppe Perazzini

57. Krohn Racing/Ferrari/Tracy Krohn

61. AF Corse/Ferrari/Jack Gerber

67. Imsa Performance/Porsche/Pascal Gibon

70. Larbre Competition/Corvette/Pedro Lamy

76. Imsa Performance/Porsche/Raymond Narac

77. Dempsey Proton/Porsche/Patrick Dempsey

80. Extreme Speed Motorsports/Ferrari/Scott Sharp

81. 8Star Motorsports/Ferrari/Enzo Potolicchio

88. Proton Competition/Porsche/Christian Ried

95. Aston Martin Racing/Aston Martin/Allan Simonsen

96. Aston Martin Racing/Aston Martin/Roald Goethe

Garage 56**

56. Green GT Green GT Christian Pescatori

Reserves (in order of priority)

LMP2

34. Race Performance/ORECA-Judd/Michel Frey

43. Morand Racing/Morgan-Judd/Natacha Gachnang

39. DKR Engineering/Lola-Judd/Olivier Porta

37. Signatech/ORECA-Nissa/Pierre Ragues

23. Delta-ADR/ORECA-Nissan/Shinji Nakano

20. HVM Status GP/Lola-Judd/Warren Hughes

GTE

98. Aston Martin Racing/Aston Martin/Stuart Hall (Am)

75. ProSpeed Competition/Porsche/Abdulaziz Al Faisal (Am)

52. Ram Racing/Ferrari/Johnny Mowlem (Pro)

90. TRG AMR North America/Aston Martin/Kevin Buckler (Am)

** Will run outside general classification.

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, February 1 2013
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