Vipers shoot for Canadian hat trick
Vipers shoot for Canadian hat trick
History sometimes repeats itself, and for the Dodge Viper team a little historical repeat at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) would be just fine, thank you.
Returning to the classic red and white livery made famous by the original Dodge Vipers, the second generation Viper team is looking to complete a hat trick, by adding a third GT victory here at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport) to the two scored by the original team in 1999 and 2000.
The team’s first appearance in 13 years here in 2013 was impressive as the Vipers led early, finished a strong 2-3 and claimed the pole. This year, they look to go one better.
“We are all excited about being back,” said 2013 GT pole winner Jonathan Bomarito (pictured right) of his return with co-driver Kuno Wittmer of Montreal (pictured above). “Last year was my first time here and we won the pole and Kuno and I got the first podium for the #93 car.”
The recent return to the red and white livery has special meaning for Bomarito.
“When I was a kid just starting racing and saw the red and white Oreca Vipers at Laguna Seca, I never dreamed that I would be driving one now. The classic look brings back the tradition and since the red and white Vipers won here twice before, I’ll use that as motivation, too.”
The 10 turn, 2.459 mile circuit is not for the faint of heart. Former champion Klaus Graf describes it as “a big boy circuit” meaning it offers big rewards but carries significant risks on its high speed corners.
“It is a daunting place,” said Bomarito. “Kuno has been here a lot, so that helped, and the team gave me most of the track time during practice. It takes a lot of confidence to deal with the blind crests and rises. The track is fast with a good flow that really matches our car well.”
“The flowing tracks like Watkins Glen, CTMP and Road America really suit the Viper,” said teammate Dominik Farnbacher who with co-driver Marc “the Goose” Goossens gave Viper its first victory at Road America last August. “The elevation changes are also good as we have the torque to help us on the uphill sections. I think we will be strong here in Canada.”
Taking that final step to the top of the podium won’t be easy. The Vipers face fierce competition from the factory Porsche North America team, winners at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring; the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship leading and Long Beach, Monterey and Watkins Glen winning Corvette Racing, and the overdue BMW Team RLL, and Risi Competizione Ferrari squads in addition to the independent Falken Porsche.
The driver line-ups are also impressive. Corvette Racing features 2013 ALMS GT Champions Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia and the 2012 champions and defending CTMP class champions Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin.
The Porsche factory counters with former champion Patrick Long teamed with newcomer Michael Christensen and 2013 Petit Le Mans winner Nick Tandy matched with Richard Lietz.
Former champions BMW Team RLL, led by Bobby Rahal, puts BMW icon Bill Auberlen with three-time World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx while former champ Dirk Mueller is paired with young star John Edwards.
Risi Ferrari puts former F1 star and 2014 Le Mans 24 Hour race GTE-Pro winner Giancarlo Fisichella with Pierre Kaffer. Falken counters with Porsche factory shoe Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers.
“The GT class is incredibly tough racing. It’s exciting and everyone is very motivated,” said Bomarito. “You know the teams and drivers are good. You try to elevate your best. You want to be prepared and not waste any time in practice. If you can get up to speed three laps quicker that can give you one more change that may help you pick up a gain. You have to be 100 percent every practice, every lap.”
“The competition in our class is, ‘Wow!’ the strongest ever. There are five manufacturers here and they are all top notch,” said Farnbacher.
Now in its second full season of competition, one of the keys to growing confidence is continuity. “Continuity really helps,” said Bomarito. “We’ve been together almost three years now. We have the same teammates, crew and engineering staff. Over time we start to understand each other better and better. They know by the tone of the driver’s voice what the driver is dealing with.”
“That makes success hugely rewarding and gives the whole team a lot of satisfaction,” said Bomarito. “To win in this competition would provide a huge sense of accomplishment.”
And it would make some new Viper history.