Vipers Falter at Laguna Seca, Continue Prepping for LeMans
The 2015 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship has been a real roller coaster ride of the #33 Dodge Viper GT3-R team of Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen, but this past weekend marked a season low after a bizarre incident with the track caused severe damage to the Viper Exchange.com car just 2 laps into the race. With the majority of the 2015 IMSA Tudor season remaining, Keating’s team has time to bounce back, but the rough weekend at Laguna Seca will certainly make a real championship in the GT Daytona class very tough for the #33 Viper team.
The Bizarre Accident in Monterey
The #33 Dodge Viper GT3-R of Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen didn’t get the start that they wanted, starting back in 8th place in the GT Daytona class (28th overall), but a great start had Keating in the third spot in class as the team made their way around the track for lap #2. As the #33 Viper headed into the famed corkscrew turn late in the lap, he was unable to avoid a large piece of storm drain coverage that had flipped out of place. Keating hit the big steel grate, severely damaging the front fascia, the right side suspension and the body work along the side and rear of the car.
Keating was able to limp the battered Viper GT3-R back to the pits, but the damage was severe and the repairs were extensive, putting the #33 car of Keating and Bleekemolen many laps down. The car would return to the track to finish the race, but they finished 11th in class (last) and 32nd overall (4th from last).
Marc Miller Looks Strong in GTD Debut
The other Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R was the #93 car driven by Marc Miller in his Tudor United SportsCar Championship GT Daytona debut. Miller qualified 2nd in the class and with the help of co-driver Jeff Mosing, the #93 car was a front runner early in the race, leading 14 laps before the ran into mechanical issues that forced the rookie due to settle for 8th in class and 29th overall.
Preparing for LeMans Continues
While this was a fairly lackluster weekend for the #33 Dodge Viper GT3-R team, there is no time to sit around and pout, as the GT Daytona cars are in action later this month at the Detroit Grand Prix before flying to France for the 2015 24 Hours of LeMans race.
The #53 Riley Motorsports/TI Automotive/Viper Exchange Dodge Viper GTS-R was originally the top car on the LeMans reserve list, but a few withdrawals from the race allowed the Viper to get into the official entry list for the race on June 13-14. When the car takes to the track for the 24 Hours of LeMans race, Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen will be joined by Marc Miller as the team attempts to win their second big 24 hour race of the season after opening the year with a win at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.