Laguna Seca GTS Class Final Report

Team ORECA Dodge Viper's Beretta & Wedlinger Capture Laguna Seca Crown In GTS Class MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 10, 1999 -The Dodge Viper ORECA Team won its fifth consecutive American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race as drivers Olivier Beretta and Karl ...

Team ORECA Dodge Viper's Beretta & Wedlinger Capture Laguna Seca Crown In GTS Class

MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 10, 1999 -The Dodge Viper ORECA Team won its fifth consecutive American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race as drivers Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger piloted their #91 Viper GTS-R to victory circle. Teammates David Donohue and Tommy Archer, driving the second seeded #92 Dodge Viper, finished 44th after an on-track incident resulted in a broken right rear toe link and forced them to retire on lap 33.

With the win, Beretta has taken the provisional lead in the overall Driver's Championship (14 points over Martin Snow) and has also helped Team ORECA Dodge Viper in the overall GTS Team Championship, two points ahead of Martin Snow Racing (Porsche).

Dodge Viper GTS-R Notes-

The Dodge Viper GTS-R has won every 1999 ALMS race it has entered (Mosport, Sears Point, Portland, Petit Le Mans and Laguna Seca) Beretta, #91 Dodge Viper GTS-R, has driven In the winning car in all five ALMS wins. The Dodge Viper GTS-R has finished 1-2 in four of five ALMS races. In 14 events this year, Beretta has 12 wins, two second-place finishes and I DNF (Daytona/Rolex 24). The Viper Team OR ECA tandem of Beretta and Karl Wedlinger recently won the provisional 1999 FIA GT Driver's Championship.

Olivier Beretta/Karl Wendlinger #91 Dodge Viper GTS-R I" place, GTS Class (I 10 laps in the 2.45 race) Beretta on the team's overall victory., "I am very happy. The Corvette was fast today, but the Viper was very much faster. The heat was very hard to deal with and the traffic was very, very difficult." Beretta then commented on the loss of the No, 92 car midway through the race "I was thinking 'Oh, no' when we lose the other car. We can make no mistake at all. So I push early until the Corvette is 25 seconds behind, then I take it easy. Note., Wendlinger would lap the Corvette on Lap 77.

Wendlinger on his spinout : "I hit the No. 7 BMW GT car and we both spun. Then after that the steering was "not right." Wendlinger then commented on the difficult traffic situations on the Laguna Seca course: "Some cars give you room, others don't. Some of the prototypes are not so fast others are fast - so it's hard to figure out what you can do. The traffic was the biggest problem thus far this year. The characteristics of this course (tight, not a great deal of passing room and three very different types of cars on the course at once) is what makes it difficult."

David Donohue/Tommy Archer, #92 Dodge Viper GTS-R 41 st place , GTS Class (33 laps in the 2:45 race)

Donohue on the accident that forced he and teammate Tommy Archer out of the race (Lap 33): "They (Team Rafanelli, prototype class) tried to stuff it under me in Turn Four. I had let the Panos car by and I though they (Rafanelli) were back further then they were. I came down and they dive-bombed, under breaking, and hit me in the rear wheel."

"It's a shame," added Donohue. "What were they in 29th place? What were they racing for?"

Noteworthy: Following the accident, which broke the right rear toe link, Donohue valiantly dogtrucked the car some three-quarters of the way around the Laguna Seca track, limping back into the pits in hopes of getting the car back in action. But the Dodge Viper pit crew would soon discover that the damage was too severe and the No. 92 car was rolled back to the trailer to get it ready for the Nov. 7, 1999 American Le Mans Series finals in Las Vegas.

Hugues de Chaunac, Team Manager, Dodge Viper GTS-R de Chaunac, on the Team ORECA Dodge Viper's overall performance: "(Despite losing the No. 92 car) It was still a very good week because our goal was to win the race. There was two difficulties. The first was the heat and the second was when you lose a car early, it puts a lot of pressure on the other drivers. So I asked Olivier (Beretta) to be very careful. And I told David (Donohue) that while I am sorry for him, it is a good reminder that we must be very, very careful with the slower cars and the faster cars. I still need to look at the tape to see what happened." Note: This was Team ORECA Dodge Viper's first DNF of the year In the ALMS. "Also to I am very happy for Olivier. It is not usual to have such a result (five consecutive wins) but part of the proof is that not only the driver, but the team did a great job. The Dodge Viper has great reliability and we always had great pit stops. So it was a 'complete' win for the team."

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