No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT® Viper GTS-R Posts Top-Five Finish at Lime Rock
No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R has Top-Five Streak Snapped at Three
LAKEVILLE, Conn. (July 6, 2013) – It was a roller-coaster afternoon for SRT® Motorsports at Saturday's American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. There was plenty of excitement along with a bit of disappointment. The No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper GTS-R posted its best finish of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season while the No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R had its string of top-five finishes snapped at three.
It was the fourth stop on the 10-race 2013 ALMS calendar.
Kuno Wittmer and Jonathan Bomarito turned in an impressive performance to record their first top-five finish of 2013 in the GT Class in the No. 93 Viper. The team had one close call in the final two minutes of the race as Bomarito threaded his way through a three-car mishap that unfolded right in front of him. He sealed the top-five with a last-lap pass. The previous best finish for the No. 93 was eighth at Long Beach.
"That was cool, two American cars and passing the Corvette on the last lap for a top-five," said Bomarito. "Hopefully it was exciting for everybody. Everybody with SRT has worked incredibly hard. We had a very good SRT Viper GTS-R. Everybody did a really good job and I want to thank everybody for their hard work. It was a solid day. I think we even had a better car for a potential podium but it just didn't go our way.
"Our first top five and we're looking to end the year really, really strong. We're only four or five races in now. We still have a lot of racing to go. We've got a top five. Now we want to be on the podium and hopefully get a win before the year is over."
The day turned sour quickly for the No. 91 team and drivers Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens. A power steering issue detected by Farnbacher on the pace laps was the culprit. An attempt to correct the problem failed and the car was retired before the halfway mark of the 2:45 timed event and before Goossens even had a chance to take the wheel.
"In the four pace laps I could already feel that something was wrong with the power steering," said Farnbacher. "I think I did 15 or 20 laps without power steering. It was too dangerous to keep the car on the track. They tried to fix the problem but it was too much to overcome. We'll be back and stronger."
Although the two cars didn't meet expectations in qualifying on Friday, the No. 93 was impressive in Saturday's morning warm-up and the performance continued in the race at the 1.5-mile road course. The No. 91 qualified eighth and the No. 93 ninth.
"If you look where we were even in practice this morning and how we were yesterday, we really made some strides today," said Beth Paretta, Director of Marketing and Operations, SRT Brand and Motorsports. "And kudos to Jonathan with a last lap pass on a car that was right in front of us. We went from sixth to fifth on the last lap. Nothing gets more exciting than that. We knew we were struggling a little bit so the fact that we scored a fifth-place finish makes us more than happy. Keep in mind we had a quick turnaround from Le Mans."
Wittmer got the call to start the race in the No. 93 and turned in an eye-catching performance before turning the wheel over to Bomarito.
"Finishing your first top five with SRT Motorsports is something else," said Wittmer. "This is our first time here with the car. The other teams had an upper hand on us. To qualify eighth and ninth, we knew it was going to be a difficult task to pass here. As a driver, I have nothing but faith in my team, my engineers and the guys. I was able to start ninth and pit in third-place. That's something you don't see often in this level of competition especially at Lime Rock when the lap times are so short."
SRT Road Racing Manager Gary Johnson had plenty of praise for the No.93 team. "I think today really shows the strength of the team and crew. Of course the drivers – Kuno and Jonathan – did a beautiful job. They were aggressive and yet careful at the same time and I think it ended up really helping us finish fifth.
"The 91 team had a problem today but those things happen. I think the car will be really strong at Mosport (Mobil 1 Grand Prix of Mosport, July 19-21) in a couple of weeks. I can't wait to get both cars back on track. "
American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron
American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix
Lime Rock Park
1. No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE (John Edwards, Dirk Muller)
2. No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 (Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia)
3. No. 06 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (Tom Kimber-Smith, Patrick Long)
4. No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE (Bill Auberlen, Maxime Martin)
5. No. 93 SRT Viper GTS-R (Kuno Wittmer, Jonathan Bomarito)
6. No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 (Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin)
7. No. 48 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (Bryce Miller, Marco Holzer)
8. No. 17 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (Wolf Henzler, Bryan Sellers)
9. No. 23 Ferrari F458 Italia (Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell)
10. No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia (Olivier Beretta, Matteo Malucelli)
11. No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R (Dominik Farnbacher, Marc Goossens)