Viper takes GTS win at Laguna seca

Sunday 15 October 2000. Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger restored Dodge's grip on the Le Mans GTS category with a fine victory at Laguna Seca, California on Sunday afternoon. Their Team ORECA Dodge Viper GTS R/T completed 109 laps of the ...

Sunday 15 October 2000. Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger restored Dodge's grip on the Le Mans GTS category with a fine victory at Laguna Seca, California on Sunday afternoon. Their Team ORECA Dodge Viper GTS R/T completed 109 laps of the demanding Monterey circuit, finishing the two and three-quarter hour race 73 seconds ahead of the Chevrolet Corvette of Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim.

Dodge's victory came after two defeats at Texas and in the Petit Le Mans, and it was achieved despite a wobbly moment when Beretta headed for the pits with the right-front wheel parting company from the car. "The car did not feel right, so I radio-ed the pits and said I thought I had a flat tyre" said Beretta. But, as he negotiated the tight corner in the pit-lane the wheel rolled away lazily into the wall, to the consternation of the Team ORECA pit crew who had expected their car to stop three laps later!

Karl Wendlinger soon rejoined the race and headed the class after the routine pit stops were completed. David Donohue, meanwhile, made an unfortunate start to the race by running into the rear of Justin Bell's Chevrolet Corvette on the second lap of the race. The Corvette was spun around and went a lap down, but recovered to finish fourth in class.

"The Corvettes were going very cautiously at the beginning, and I was surprised at how early Justin braked" said Donohue of his former co-driver. There was no damage, and apologies were offered. "They are both gentlemen, and it was an accident" said team director Pierre Dieudonné. "We apologised to the Corvette team, which has been an example of sportsmanship on every occasion we meet."

Two races remain on the ALMS schedule for the 2000 season, at Las Vegas and then at Adelaide on New Year's eve. Viper Team ORECA will contest both of them, wrapping up the Teams and Drivers championships for the second year in succession and the Manufacturers championship for the first year (subject to confirmation).

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Series ALMS
Drivers Karl Wendlinger , Andy Pilgrim , Justin Bell , David Donohue , Olivier Beretta , Pierre Dieudonné