SRT® MOTORSPORTS CLAIMS ANOTHER ALMS TOP-FIVE
No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R Finishes Fifth at Laguna Seca
No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R Suffers Broken Gear Box Early in the Four-Hour Race
SALINAS, Calif. (May 11, 2013) – SRT® Motorsports continued its strong showing in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron as the No. 91 Fast & Furious 6 SRT Viper GTS-R earned its third consecutive top-five finish in GT Class competition. Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens finished fifth Saturday in the American Le Mans Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Farnbacher and Goossens were stellar throughout the four-hour event behind the wheel of the No. 91 Viper GTS-R combining surgeon-like driving precision on the track with a flawless performance by their over-the-wall pit crew. The effort on pit road helped gain vital track position on a day where green-flag passing was almost nonexistent.
Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia (No. 3 Corvette) won in GT with the first five cars finishing within three seconds. The No. 3 car was in command for the final three hours of the race but the lead was never more than five seconds. Wolf Henzler and Bryan Seller (No. 17 Porsche) finished runner-up. Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell (No. 23 Ferrari were third.
Starting eighth at the 2.238-mile road course, the Farnbacher-Goossens duo overcame a sluggish Friday qualifying session to methodically gain positions in the 11-car GT Class field.
Farnbacher started the race and wheeled the No. 91 Viper GTS-R for more than two hours, running as high as third and within three-seconds of the GT Class leader. The only adversity came during a pit stop when he overshot his pit box, costing the driver two positions.
Farnbacher had high praise for his team's work on pit road.
"The biggest thanks today are going to my pit crew," Farnbacher said. "They did an incredible job getting us back out on time all the time. They were very good. It's well deserved. I'm happy and we are still in the title chase. Marc did a good job, brought it home in one piece and that's what we wanted."
Bringing it home in one piece wasn't easy for Goossens. A late-race caution bunched up the field for a one-lap dash to the checkered flag. Goossens restarted fourth in the action-packed final lap and elected to be safe instead of taking a chance on damaging the racecar in a battle for fourth. He settled for fifth.
"On that last restart, we were in good position to hold fourth place," Goossens said. "If it wasn't for another Ferrari who jump-started us, he got going before the green got called. (He) overtakes me, I overtake him in Turn 3 and then he tries to dive-bomb me in the last corner. The last thing that I wanted was to have any impact on the car trying to save fourth place. Our cars have to be shipped to Le Mans soon and I left the door open for him so we wouldn't make contact. We would have made contact and both would have DNF'd. We didn't need that and we would have had a massive amount of damage on the car. We can't afford that at this point, knowing we're going to Le Mans soon."
Teammates Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer in the No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R finished 11th after suffering two gear box malfunctions early in the race, the last being terminal on Lap 12.
"When the race went green, the Viper accelerated really well in the straightaway," said Wittmer. "Once we got down into the corner and into the downshifts, I lost second gear immediately. We assessed the issue and decided to stay out for a little bit and run without second gear. That only prolonged the problem into the other gears. So we opted to come into the paddock, make repairs and get back out for points.
"We made changes to the gearing in about 45 minutes and was still really motivated to get back out there and race. The car felt good, the chassis felt good. It's a Viper and it always feels good when you're driving it."
SRT Motorsports Racing Manager Gary Johnson said that once a team experienced transmission problems, it's extremely difficult to avoid having the same thing happen again.
"Once it fails the first time, you've got to get everything cleaned out or it will fail a second time," Johnson said. "I know the guys did a great job trying to do that but it's just impossible to get everything. I think that's what happened. We'll go back and see if there were any root causes to it but we are really happy with the 91 finish. The pit crew did a fantastic job today. I think we gained a total of three positions through the race and it was all due to the pit stops. Those guys are to be applauded."
Despite a weekend that ended with mixed emotions, Russ Ruedisueli, Director of Motorsports Engineering Group, Chrysler, says "We'll regroup and well come back. It's a really resilient team. It's a good group."
SRT Motorsports – Race Results
American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron
American Le Mans Monterey - Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
1. No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 (Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia)
2. No. 17 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (Wolf Henzler, Bryan Sellers)
3. No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE (John Edwards, Dirk Muller)
4. No. 23 Ferrari F458 Italia (Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell)
5. No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R (Dominik Farnbacher, Marc Goossens)
6. No. 48 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (Bryce Miller, Marco Holzer)
7. No. 06 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (Tom Kimber-Smith, Patrick Long)
8. No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia (Olivier Beretta, Matteo Malucelli)
9. No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 (Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin)
10. No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE (Bill Auberlen, Maxime Martin)
11. No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R (Kuno Wittmer, Jonathan Bomarito)
Unofficial Manufacturer Standings