Dodge Discontinues Viper GTS-R Racing Program
Remember how Dodge retired from NASCAR right after winning the Sprint Cup Championship in 2012? Well, the Michigan-based automaker did it again, this time around announcing it’s pulling the plug on its sports car racing program; effective immediately. Specifically, Dodge is discontinuing the SRT Motorsports Dodge Viper GTS-R racing program following a successful IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship season at the end of which SRT won both the team and driver titles in the GTLM class.
The news is heartbreaking to say the least.
"Our company has made a business decision to discontinue the SRT Motorsports Dodge Viper GTS-R racing program," said Ralph Gilles, Senior Vice President of Product Design, Chrysler Group LLC. "We are very proud of the amazing achievements our fantastic teams, drivers and partners have achieved on track the last few seasons."
So how does Dodge explain this decision? Rather briefly, saying it "will redirect its focus and efforts on the brand’s product lineup." Although there’s no official confirmation, what really happened isn’t much of a mystery. Dodge is obviously trying to cut expenses, and the first hint that the Viper racing program is in danger surfaced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Chrysler cancelled the Viper’s trip to France due to lack of sponsorship and ultimately decided to kill the program altogether.
Let’s hope that racing money is going to improve the Viper and make it a better competitor to the new Corvette Z06.
Click past the jump to read more about the Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R.
Why It Matters
Although it has less than 20 years of motorsport to its name, the Dodge Viper is arguably one of the most successful American-built race cars in the past two decades. Seeing its career come to an end is heartbreaking for the motorsport enthusiasts, who have lost not just a spectacular race car, but an enticing, all-American battle as well. We are, of course, referring to the Viper - Corvette clash, which has reached a new peak now that the brand-new C7.R is roaring its V-8 engine on U.S. tracks.
This retirement is also likely to affect the Viper as a product as well. Dodge is already struggling to sell its halo car by offering hefty incentives for the 2015 model year and the sports car’s disappearance from the race track might have an impact as well. Of course, we’re not expecting sales to just drop dramatically, but the axing of the Viper racing program could signal the beginning of the end of the road-legal Viper as we know it.
The last Viper GTS-R to hit the track marked SRT’s return to its classic red-and-white color scheme. The race car’s body is also adorned by special Dodge 100th anniversary logos, as the brand is celebrating its centenary in 2014. Other than that, the final track-prepped GTS-R remained unaltered, as manufacturers aren’t allowed to meddle with the internals once the season is underway.
The red-and-white livery depicted above is similar to the one that covered the Dodge Viper entries that took an overall victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2000, a class win in the 2000 24 Hours of Le Mans, and American Le Mans Series championships in 1999 and 2000.
Dodge Viper Racing History
The Dodge Viper GTS-R made its racing debut in 1996, right after the road-going coupe entered production. Its first major success came in 1997, when the sports car won the FIA GT Championship. The Viper went on to win the series again in 1998, 1999, 2001, and 2002. In 1999 and 2000, the Viper GTS-R also clinched the first two editions of the American Le Mans Series. Additionally, Dodge’s V-10 racer secured several GT championship events in France, Belgium, Italy and Sweden between 2001 and 2009.
As for single race wins, the Viper GTS-R has no less than three Nurburgring 24 Hour trophies to its name, obtained in 1999, 2001 and 2002. Its resume also includes overall wins at Daytona (2000) and Spa 24 Hours (2001, 2002). Although it never became an outright winner at Le Mans, the Viper scored three class victories from 1998 through 2000. Other notable class wins include the 2000 12 Hours of Sebring, the 1999 Petit Le Mans and the 2005-2007 24 Hours of Nurburgring.