Today’s schedule for the American LeMans Series event at Mid Ohio began with a pair of practice sessions at 8:45am and 11:15am followed by race qualifying at 12:25pm.
The two new teams piloting the 2013 SRT Viper GTS-R came out with the hopes of improving on their 11th and 13th best times (in the 13 car field) from Thursday but during the first practice session, the #91 Forza Motorsport 4 Viper driven by Kumo Wittmer and Dominic Farnbacher ran just 10 laps before the car was taken back to the garage area with an “engine sputter”. This engine problem forced the pit crew of the #91 Viper to decide to make an engine change – a move which prevented them from participating in both the second practice session of the day and qualifying. As a result, the #91 Forza Motorsport 4 SRT Viper GTS-R will have to start at the rear of the field.
Day Two for the #93 SRT Viper GTS-R team was slightly better with the first round of practice bringing about a best time of 1:22.719 with Marc Goossens and Tommy Kendal at the helm. That accounts for an improvement of over a second compared to Thursday’s times after the #93 Pennzoil Ultra Viper turned in a best lap of 1:23.759. During the second practice session of the day, while the #91 Viper was in the garage area getting a new motor, the #93 Viper GTS-R continued improving their lap times while Goossens and Kendal practiced lapping the track as well as spending some time practicing their pit stops and driver changes. After smooth sailing for the #93 Viper team through the two practice sessions today – driver Marc Goossens was selected to make the qualifying runs for the team. Goossens turned in his best official time of the weekend in the new Viper race car, running a 1.22:158 which is good enough for the 10th starting position for tomorrow afternoon’s race. Luckily, while the #93 Viper team managed to shave a bit of time off of their practice best for qualifying – much of the rest of the GT Class field posted slower times in qualifying than they did in practice. This suggests that the Viper drivers are learning their new race cars while other drivers were slower as a group due to the track and weather conditions.
While things could certainly be worse for the SRT Viper teams, this is surely not the way that they had hoped for the Viper’s return to the American LeMans Series to start off. The two Viper teams were among the slower cars in the field through all three practice sessions and without any practice laps after their early departure from the first morning practice, the #91 Viper driven by Wittmer/Farnbacher will head into tomorrow’s race starting last. Considering that the identical #93 Viper ran into no engine issues, the SRT team is likely hoping that the mysterious engine problem with the #91 was isolated to that one engine.
The Starting Lineup for the American LeMans Series GT Class at Mid Ohio:
Starting Position - Car # - Drivers – Best Time – Car
1- 55 - Müller/Auberlen - 1:19.298 - BMW E92 M3
2- 02 - Brown/Cosmo - 1:19.329 - Ferrari F458 Italia
3- 45 - Bergmeister/Long - 1:19.445 - Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
4- 01 - Sharp/van Overbeek - 1:19.471 - Ferrari F458 Italia
5- 3 - Magnussen/Garcia - 1:19.536 - Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1
6- 4 -Gavin/Milner - 1:19.727 - Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1
7- 56 - Hand/Müller - 1:19.754 - BMW E92 M3
8- 48 - Miller/Maassen - 1:20.209 - Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
9- 17 - Henzler/Sellers - 1:21.222 - Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
10- 93 - Goossens/Kendall - 1:22.158 - Viper GTS-R
11- 23 - Sweedler/Bell - 1:22.424 - Lotus Evora
12- 44 - Neiman/Holzer - 1:24.096 - Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
13- 91 - Wittmer/Farnbacher – No Time - SRT Viper GTS-R
The Mid Ohio Sports Car Challenge race begins on Saturday at 1:05pm with a run time of 2 hours and 45 minutes around the 2.258 mile road course. The race will air on ABC starting at 2:00pm EST.