AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Jan. 31, 2000 - Dodge Motorsports and its American Le Mans Series and FIA GT Series defending champion Viper Team ORECA GTS-R announced today the line-up for the upcoming Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, scheduled for Saturday and...
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Jan. 31, 2000 - Dodge Motorsports and its American Le Mans Series and FIA GT Series defending champion Viper Team ORECA GTS-R announced today the line-up for the upcoming Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 5-6. The three car team is as follows:
Car No. 91 - Olivier Beretta (MON), Karl Wendlinger (AUS) and Dominique Dupuy (FRA)
Car No. 92 - Tommy Archer (USA), Marc Duez (FRA) and Vincent Vosse (BEL)
Car No, 93 - David Donohue (USA), Jean-Phillippe Belloc (FRA) and Ni Amorim (POR)
According to ORECA Director Hugues de Chaunac, the trio of Dodge Viper GTS-Rs are poised to make a serious run at the Daytona title this year - especially in light of what happened last year when an accident derailed the team's entire weekend program.
"Our goal is much different than last year," said do Chaunac. "Last year we had one car this year we have three. Sure, our goal is to win, but at the same time that will be difficult because GM and Corvette are now competing at a very high level."
Dodge's list of Viper GTS-R drivers reads like a 'Who's Who' of sports car success stories. Beginning with former Formula One drivers Beretta (1999 ALMS Drivers Champion, FIA GT Co-Drivers Champion) and Wendlinger ('99 FIA GT Co-Drivers Champion), along with Dupuy, the trio in the lead No. 91 Viper was the same team that won the last great endurance race of the calendar year - the '99 24 Hours of Le Mans.
"it is important that we have drivers who are familiar with the Viper, if not the Daytona track itself," said de Chaunac. His strategy for the race, which he calls "the start of some tough competition between Dodge and Chevrolet this year," is pretty straightforward.
"It is not important to be the fastest at Daytona," he said. "It is a very long race and the strongest element is consistency. Our drivers will be under strict instruction to stay out of trouble with both slower and faster traffic and to be there at the finish."
1999 was not only a phenomenal for the Dodge Viper GTS-R, but also for American sports car racing. Never before has an American production-based sports car enjoyed a season so filled with accomplishment, especially overseas. Not only did the Viper become the first American sports car to capture the overall FIA GT title, it also won its second-straight 24 Hours of Le Mans title - a feat which no other production-based American sports car has ever been able to accomplish. For the two prior years, Viper had also won the FIA GT2 title, This makes Dodge Viper the first American production car to achieve such a superlative race record.
>From the onset, the objective for the Viper racing program was simple, according to Lou Patane, DaimlerChrysler's Vice President, Motorsports Operations- "Our objective is to create a heritage for Viper," he explained. "We wanted a car that wins consistently. A car that is dominant in its environment. And a car that has the durability that our customers went to own."
While cases can be made for Corvette, Mustang and the legendary Shelby Cobra, along with the Ford GT40 (which won Le Mans Grand Tourer/production model in 1968 and '69), Dodge Viper's complete dominance with two consecutive undefeated seasons has elevated it to legendary status and a place high atop the list of even the most legendary American production-based sports cars.