A Pair of Podiums for SRT® Motorsports at Watkins Glen
Post-Race Report: Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International - 29 June 2014
Both Dodge Viper SRT GTS-Rs worked towards the front in the first hour with Kuno Wittmer taking the lead 52 minutes into the race, and both teams would battle non-stop for the victory for the entirety of the race’s final three hours. All four drivers led at least one lap in the race and Dodge Viper SRT GTS-Rs led seven different times in the race’s six hours for a combined total of 21 laps in front of the GTLM class.
The double podium was the second for SRT Motorsports since returning to major-league sports car racing in 2012. In last year’s race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Canada, Goossens and Farnbacher finished second in the No. 91 and Bomarito and Wittmer took third in the No. 93. Following the double podium in Canada, SRT Motorsports claimed its first victory in the next race at Wisconsin’s Road America, the team’s first since the 2012 return.
The Watkins Glen results kept a perfect podium streak going for SRT Motorsports in this year’s IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship endurance races. The No. 91 team finished third in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and the No. 93 squad finished second at the 12 Hours of Sebring. With today’s results, SRT is the only manufacturer to have a podium finisher in each of the three endurance events run to date. The final endurance race of the year, and the closing round of the North American Endurance Cup, is October’s season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
SRT Motorsports next competes in the SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario near Toronto on Sunday, July 13. The event on the 2.459-mile circuit is the sixth event for the GTLM class in the 2014 season. The race can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT.
Dominik Farnbacher, driver, No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
What did you think of today’s race?
“It was up and down, up and down. We were a little bit unlucky at the end with the cautions. It allowed the leader to make it on fuel. It was really, really tight at the end. It was a little bit overwhelming. Marc (Goossens) did two double stints in the car, which was really tough on him. He did a great job. I’m really proud of my team – the mechanics, Bill (Riley) and all the guys for having an awesome strategy.”
How does it feel to finish on the podium with your teammates?
“We both finished on the podium at Mosport last year and now we’ve done it again – second and third here at Watkins Glen. It’s awesome. It’s great for the points and great for the team.”
Marc Goossens, driver, No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
How would you describe today’s race?
“It was an interesting race. I really took it easy at the beginning of the race because there was a lot of fighting going on – a lot of door banging in the beginning, which I didn’t think was worth getting involved with and the car was good at the end. It’s a shame the yellow came out because the 3 car already confirmed to me that they were not going to make it on fuel. But then again, it happened to us last year at Road America. That’s part of racing. That’s part of the strategy, the gambling and they had a great car. They pulled away on every restart, so I think they did a great job. For us, I think the team did awesome. Pit stops were – the first one was maybe not the best, but all the others were spot on and I can’t thank the SRT guys enough for giving us such a great car. I’d also like to thank my teammate for driving a fast race, but also a clean race, which makes it easier at the end if you’re in for that final double stint. It did get to me physically, but I don’t think I was the only one doing double stints that was struggling at the end. We should be pretty happy coming away from here with second and third place and both cars on the podium.”
How did the heat and humidity impact the race?
“It was hot and I tried to find that little bit of extra power there at the end by turning off the AC for a little bit at the restart and you can’t describe how the heat gets to you at that point, but you have to get going. It’s a shame that a prototype dive-bombed me on the inside of turn one on the second-to-last restart because I think I could have made a good run on the 3 car. It’s also shame the last yellow came out because I was going to be in a position to put pressure on him. To bring this Dodge team back to the podium the first time we’re in the red-and-white livery, I think we should be very pleased with that.”
Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of SRT Motorsports
What do you take away from today’s race?
“It was an excellent race for us. The vehicle demonstrated winning capability throughout the whole race and we found our groove. It seemed like at the back end of the stints our tires would come in and the cars would really grip and be consistent. Traffic was a challenge. The guys did a nice job racing through a lot of back markers. It was a very exciting race to watch, but it was bittersweet. We know that with couple more laps we could have had the win. We finished with less than half a car length between P1 and P2, but I couldn’t think of a better way to run today going from P5 and P6 to where we finished. I’m really proud of this team and how far we’ve come in the last few months.”
Why have the Vipers had continued success in the endurance format?
“The Viper seems to be pretty bullet proof. We’ve had some very good runs and a lot of great reliability. Nothing went wrong and the pit stops were near perfect. Just a little bad luck here or there with regards to traffic, but otherwise the cars ran great. Endurance racing is the ultimate proof of mettle.”
Bill Riley,lead engineer, No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
How was your race?
“The good thing is the Dodge Viper was really strong. The paint scheme is great and the fans loved it. We had a good day and great strategy. Those last two yellows just hurt us and I think we would have had them and we worked hard on saving fuel the whole race so that we could play that strategy out. Unfortunately it just didn’t play out for us today.”
Did you change strategies during the race?
“When we saw what was happening with some of the cars speed wise, we figured this is what we need to do, but it started pretty early. We were surprised at the beginning of the race how few yellows there were and we thought it was going to go green for long periods of time, so we backed the strategy up pretty far on saving fuel to see if we could make it.”
Jonathan Bomarito, driver, No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
How was your race today?
“It was tough, hot and challenging both physically and mentally. The guys did a great job. We have two Vipers on the podium – second and third – and we did it in a tough race. It was six hours on a tough course with a lot of traffic, but I’m really happy with the crew. We worked hard on the car today making changes and we had one of the fastest cars at the end. It’s a shame we lost a little bit of track position because I think we had something to fight with at the end. It was good. I’m happy. We earned great points and we’ll move on to the next one and I think we’ll be real strong at Mosport as well.”
Kuno Wittmer, driver, No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
How tough was today’s event?
“The conditions were exhausting. My body just was not acclimating to the heat today. I was rejecting everything I put in my stomach. I have no explanation for it other than I drove my heart out when I was in the car. I tried forgetting about everything and I had the adrenaline level to compensate for all the issues going on with my body today. Either way, we finished second and third. We opted not to go to Le Mans to focus on this championship and here we are finishing second and third after a good month break during the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Everything is paying off and everything is moving in the right direction now.”
Would the Vipers have caught the winner if it weren’t for the caution?
“Yeah, we were going to get them. We definitely would have gotten them. I think we out-foxed a lot of teams today with fuel strategy considering that I got sick and the conditions and the yellows that we had, which were very limited. The crew is really, really good and the engineering is really sharp at determining new strategies as we go along. That’s really, really important at this point of the year. We’re just at the midpoint of the season.”
How do you feel moving forward to Mosport?
“I think we can aim for the highest step on the podium from now on. Not that we aren’t already, but the fact that we got so close and we were working really well together on track is encouraging. When I was racing with Marc (Goossens) or Dominik (Farnbacher) on track with the 91 Viper, we were just dancing together through the corners. We weren’t doing anything stupid, we didn’t not take any major risks and we were working as teammates and that’s what we need to keep doing.”
Matt Bejnarowicz, lead engineer, No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R
How was your race?
“I don’t think you can complain about two and three. We’ve been hunting for that top spot for a while. Coming out with the classic look kind of reminds me of the old days when I started with the Viper racing program back in 1998 and 1999. For me, I don’t know how you can complain about two spots on the podium with the classic colors.”
How significant is today’s finish?
“I think this is a good result, especially in an endurance race. I think what you’re seeing is that we tend to do pretty well in the endurance races and I think a lot of that is the strategy and the engineering that puts us in that position. I don’t know that we were the fastest cars out there, so we had to really think about how we could in position to win that race and I think the 91 did a really good job of that. I’m pretty sure if that yellow didn’t come out they would have probably ended up in front.”