SRT Viper GTS-R Beats Corvette C7R, Finishes 3rd in Return to Daytona 24 Hour Race
Although the modern SRT Viper GTS-R race program has been competing for the last two seasons in the American LeMans Series, this past weekend marked the first time that a factory backed Viper race car has competed in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. The last time that we saw a Viper compete in the grueling event was back in 2000 and in that run, Team Oreca drove their #91 Dodge Viper GTS-R to an overall victory, beating the #3 Chevrolet Corvette by a narrow margin while the other Team Oreca Viper (#93) finished 4 laps back in 3rd place overall. While the event is vastly different now with the inclusion of the much quicker prototype race cars, the drivers of the Viper and Corvette race cars are all different and – obviously – the cars themselves are much different, the 2014 Rolex 24 saw the reincarnation of the classic Corvette/Viper battle as the #3 and #4 factory-backed Corvettes taking on the #91 and #93 factory-backed Vipers.
The new SRT Viper GTS-R race teams struck first, with the #91 Viper claiming the class pole position while the #93 Viper qualified 3rd in the GTLM class. The #4 Corvette C7R qualified 4th in class and mechanical problems prevented the #3 Corvette from making a qualifying attempt so as the Detroit rivals headed into race day – the Vipers had the early edge.
As the 2014 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona began on Saturday at 2:10pm, the #91 SRT Viper GTS-R quickly showed that the qualifying effort was no fluke and through the first few hours of the race, the #91 car held the lead spot in the class with the #93 close behind but both of the Corvette C7R cars slowly worked their way towards the front of the GTLM class. Unfortunately, as the race neared its 10th hour, the #91 Viper came down pit road and made the hard left hand turn into the garage area. Driver Marc Goossens reported a problem with the steering system which was diagnosed as a broken power steering line. The team quickly repaired the issue but 15 minutes were lost while that fix was performed and that put the #91 Viper 12 laps behind the GTLM class leader when the team got the car back on the track.