Dodge Viper To Enter American Le Mans Series Las Vegas -- DaimlerChrysler Corporation today announced at the opening ceremonies for this week's Viper Owners Invitational that it would enter the newly-formed American Le Mans Series with...
Dodge Viper To Enter American Le Mans Series Las Vegas -- DaimlerChrysler Corporation today announced at the opening ceremonies for this week's Viper Owners Invitational that it would enter the newly-formed American Le Mans Series with two factory-prepared Dodge Viper GTS-Rs. The Dodge Viper, defending 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner and two-time Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) GT2 Champion, has achieved considerable success and recognition at the highest level of professional European sports car racing. Yet, until now, America's most powerful and competitive sports car has appeared at only a limited number of North American racing venues. That all changes when Viper Team ORECA joins the new American Le Mans Series, following the June 12-13 Le Mans 24-hour race in France. "For the past several years, it's been up to the Viper to carry the American motorsports flag in Europe," said DaimlerChrysler Vice President of Motorsports Operations Lou Patane. "We're proud of what we've accomplished. Without detracting from our FIA title defense, we're prepared to challenge for the American Le Mans championship." "The attractive television package certainly played a part in our decision to enter the American Le Mans Series," said Jim Julow, Vice President - Dodge Car & Truck Division. "But frankly, we think the prospect of seeing the Dodge Viper compete adds to the spectator appeal of the sport. We feel that bringing the World Champion to the party and giving fans a true factory battle is the show of support that this series needs to gain a foothold for professional sports car racing in America. "It's no coincidence that we've chosen the Viper Owners Invitational to make this announcement," added Julow. "Not only do these enthusiasts appreciate the significance of this event and the significance that motorsports plays to this company, but they'll also play a large and vocal part in supporting this new series." The Viper GTS-R competes in the Grand Touring Sports or GTS Class against other production-based sports racers such as the new Chevrolet Corvette C5-R and Porsche 911 Turbo. The driving lineup for the Dodge Viper GTS-R team of Viper Team ORECA will be announced at a future date.
A WINNING RECORD
The Dodge Viper is well on its way to establishing a motorsports legacy. In 1997, in only its second year in racing, the Viper GTS-Rs entered by Viper Team ORECA won the prestigious FIA GT2 Manufacturer's Championship and the driver's title with Justin Bell dominating the series throughout the year. Viper Team ORECA repeated the feat in 1998 with Olivier Beretta and Pedro Lamy. Along the way, Viper earned an unprecedented bonus, finishing first and second in the GT2 class at Le Mans in 1998. The event marked the first win by an American manufacturer in 29 years -- and the first-ever win for an American production-based car.
VIPER TEAM ORECA
Chrysler joined forces with respected racing tactician Hugues de Chaunac to create the Viper factory development racing team, Viper Team ORECA. "The Viper GTS-R has become the benchmark in GT racing and we've been able to achieve great success with DaimlerChrysler," said ORECA owner Hugues de Chaunac. "I'm looking forward to competing in both new championships."
The most successful car in FIA GT2 competition is now available to private race teams through DaimlerChrysler's racing partner, ORECA of France. The agreement allows ORECA to build and sell the Viper GTS-R to select private teams throughout the world. In addition, ORECA manages a customer service department to supply spare parts and to provide technical support to Viper GTS-R owners. DaimlerChrysler has sold more than a dozen factory-built racing Vipers, offering private race teams the design, engineering and race-readiness they need for winning on any level. Cars are built at ORECA's race shop near the Circuit Paul Ricard in Signes, France, to the same technical specifications as the 1998 Viper GTS-R that won the FIA World Championship in GT2. The base price for the Viper GTS-R is $325,000 U.S.
DaimlerChrysler uses its own engineering resources and some of the world's best suppliers to build and develop the Viper GTS-R into a world-class race car. Each race car is a product of an in-house program that utilizes the same engineers and craftspeople that work on production versions. This in-house approach allows the company to improve its people, processes and consumer products through racing. "Winning the most prestigious endurance race in the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, proves that DaimlerChrysler's motorsports philosophy of investing in people to create new and innovative processes in a compressed and pressurized environment works," said Patane. "In the future, this approach will deliver a competitive advantage for DaimlerChrysler. Our involvement in motorsports directly benefits the development of new and innovative cars and trucks for our customers worldwide. "DaimlerChrysler's motorsports philosophy stretches beyond publicity," added Patane. "Our focus is on obtaining tangible, internal benefits to people, processes and consumer products. Our motorsports programs are truly an integral part of our product development processes. The Viper racing program has led to advancements in engine block and cylinder head tooling, transmission and suspension refinements, and race-inspired exhaust manifolds."