GOOD TURNOUT AT ROAD AMERICA Courtney Disappointed with Finish Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin (August 16, 2009) -- Jeff Courtney, driver of the No. 99 KENDA Tires/Woodhouse Performance/Dodge Viper Competition Coupe entertained sponsors and friends at...
GOOD TURNOUT AT ROAD AMERICA
Courtney Disappointed with Finish
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin (August 16, 2009) -- Jeff Courtney, driver of the No. 99 KENDA Tires/Woodhouse Performance/Dodge Viper Competition Coupe entertained sponsors and friends at his home track of Road America this weekend at the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship. Things didn't go as planned and Courtney finished 13th after a 12th place start. Kuno Wittmer, driver for the RealTime Acura Touring Car team, also became Courtney's teammate in the GT race with the No. 13 Viper. He had trouble with a suspension part and was unable to finish the race.
"I really have compassion for the team including Jeff and Kuno," said team owner Bob Woodhouse. "Jeff worked hard for his sponsors and friends to place a great weekend in front of them. Then to have the race turn out with these results, we all need to shrug it off, say 'that's racing,' and move forward."
"I was off my game this weekend," said Courtney. After Friday morning's practice session, Courtney needed to have his clutch replaced in his No. 99 KENDA Tires/Woodhouse Performance Dodge Viper Competition Coupe. The team worked hard late Friday night to replace the clutch, missing the final and most important practice session. As the cars lined up on the grid, Courtney prepared for the standing start by pulling the slack from the clutch when the car crept forward few inches prior to the start. He was penalized for that roll forward before the lights went out. During the race he was required to come into the pits for a quick stop-and-go.
"When I heard about the penalty, I was really frustrated," said Courtney. "I radioed back to the team that I wanted to wait and try to come in under a yellow. I was distracted going into turn 14 and spun the car." Courtney's No. 99 Viper spun out on the grass and returned to the track, backwards. Spectators held their breath as Tony Gaples' Corvette headed right towards him. "Tony had a great last minute maneuver, a big thanks to him for excellent driving around me. I don't even want to think about what could have happened," said Courtney. Both cars were unscathed.
After that, there was little Courtney could do. He reported to the pits for the penalty and returned to the track, but the race went green from flag to flag so there was no opportunity to make headway on the leaders.
Wittmer in the No. 13 car was also dealt a poor hand. Making his debut in the SCCA SPEED GT Championships, Wittmer qualified for second on the grid. After a great start and some promising first laps where he was able to pull out the lead, Wittmer was forced back to the pits due to a broken upright, part of the rear suspension. "It's too bad for Kuno. When he approached me a couple weeks ago about a ride in the No. 13 Viper, I wasn't very sure we could get it to happen," said Woodhouse. "That was before Peter Cunningham [RealTime team owner] said, 'Bob, I really think a lot of this kid and his talent. Let's see if we can find a way.'" After the fog of the Grey Goose wore off, Woodhouse found himself driving an Acura TSX in the SCCA SPEED Touring Car race on Saturday and Wittmer racing the No. 13 Viper on Sunday for round eight of the SCCA SPEED Championship races.
As the season nears the checkered flag of its own, one cannot help but note that the Vipers have been curiously missing from the podium throughout this 2009 season. In fact, in all of the 24 podium positions of the season, a Viper has only been represented once. An unusual statistic when considering Dodge Vipers tend to make up about one third of the grid. One would expect their statistic to mimic Porsche's, who have stood on the podium nine times this season, or even Ford, a single car entry that has been on the podium six times this season. When we go back to the 2008 season, the statistics remain stark, Vipers, a main competitor in the SCCA SPEED GT races, were represented on the podium only three times. As race fans all know, this series attempts to level the playing field by adjusting the weight and air intake restriction of each brand. The question looms on about the Vipers; are they getting a fair adjustment? Shouldn't the competition staff identify the restrictions to the Vipers as unfair? This writer cannot help but notice these discrepancies, and finds it odd that no one else has reported on them. Am I breathing too much exhaust from an idling Viper? Perhaps not.