MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012) – Racing the clock is nothing new to Bill Riley but in 2012 the term took on an entirely new meaning to the veteran road racer.
Riley, Vice President of Riley Technologies, was quick to point out the biggest challenge associated with the project of putting the SRT Viper GTS-R back on the race track was “getting everything to gel and working correctly.”
In its debut at Mid-Ohio, both Viper GTS-R cars were running at the finish and the performance improved throughout the two-hour, 45-minute timed event. As an added bonus, the No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R finished 10th.
“Our first goal at Mid-Ohio was to get through the race without any major problems,” said Gary Johnson, SRT Motorsports Road Racing Manger. “We accomplished that. In fact, we made progress throughout the race. The cars were getting better.”
The Viper began to flex its competitive muscle at the Baltimore Grand Prix in September. The No. 93 team was in contention to score an eighth-place finish when it was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact with just two laps to go. The infraction dropped the team to 12th in the final rundown but the performance indicated that significant gains were being made.
“I think that was our breakthrough,” said Riley. “We had that incident at the end but I think we showed we were going to make it to the front group.”
The two-car team finished the season with perhaps its biggest challenge – the season-ending Petit Le Mans, a 10-hour endurance race around the 12 turn, 2.54-mile Road Atlanta course. The No. 91 finished eighth, its third top-10 in four races.
“I’m very pleased,” said Riley after the race. “We had a good qualifying effort, a fast race pace. The No. 91 led laps and had a fast pace all day. I think we have all the pieces of the puzzle; we just have to make sure we put them together when we go to Sebring next year.”
Johnson agreed, saying he too was pleased with the overall progress of the program. “The SRT Motorsports team did a great job improving the car every time it went out,” said Johnson. “I think we have shown the car has a lot of potential. I’m really looking forward to making some improvements during the break and coming back really strong for the 2013 season.”
As he prepares the SRT Viper GTS-Rs for 2013 season, Riley once again is in a race against time to prepare for the upcoming season.
“The clock is ticking,” said Riley. “After Road Atlanta, we pulled the cars completely apart and actually they’re still apart. We’ve had them on the plate and checking everything, making sure everything is ready to go for next season. And we’re working on some development parts. With the holidays, we’ve got a short amount of time to turn these cars around, get 'em all back together and go test.”
The team will test twice at Sebring International Raceway in January and February, log time in the wind tunnel and on the seven-post rig in preparation for the 2013 season. Riley said that after each test session the cars will be dismantled and thoroughly inspected in the search for more speed. Walking the tightrope between finding speed but not compromising reliability is something Riley said his group is keenly aware of.
“Obviously, reliability is a big part of all this so we’re making sure that anything we do doesn’t affect any of the reliability,” he said. “We’re inspecting and strengthening the structural parts of the race cars and taking weight out of non-structural parts.
“We’re all ready to get back to the race track, that’s for sure. We’re pretty optimistic about the changes and revisions we’re making. We should have a pretty strong package next year.”