11330 view(s)"There's no replacement for cubic inches" is an old American motoring motto. With its 8 litre V10 engine the Viper definitely fits the bill.
US car giant Chrysler first entered the spectacular coupe via its Dodge brand in 1996.
The GTS-R had been developed by a small engineering team in merely 9 months to be ready for the start in the GT 1 class.
Unfortunately arrival of the new mid engined European GT1's had shifted
the goal posts. Even with 600+bhp on tap, the front engined Dodge was simply out classed.
1997-1998 Oreca Viper GTS-R GT2
In 97 the Viper was back, Chrysler had contracted French racing team Oreca to further develop the Viper for the (more realistic) FIA GT Championship's GT2 category. Pitched against "other" production based cars the GTS-R finished 2nd on its debut race at the Nürburgring (1 lap behind Rook Racing Porsche GT2) and scored its first title and dominating the series for the next 2 years (FIA GT 2 Champion 1997, 1998
At Le Mans the step down in class did not result in the expected step up on the podium. The Vipers qualified as fastest GT2's but racing tactician Hugues de Chaunac saw 2 of the 3 entered cars retire through accident damage leaving victory to a Porsche GT2 for the last time. By 1998 the tables had turned, this time 2 of the 3 Oreca GTS-R made it to the finish and scored 1st and 2nd in GT2.
1999-2000 Last "Works" years as GTS
For 1999 the FIA reshuffeld its rules and classes once again.The FIA's attempts to merge the ISRS with the GT1 category from the GT series (in the form of the IPC), thankfully, failed and the FIA series fell back on a solely GT2 series. Out were the "Prototype" GT1's, from now only "production" based cars would compete for top honours in the new GTS class.
The Viper having been thouroughly honed into a fast and ealiable race winning package immidaitely became the car to beat, and Oreca started to sell "Customer" packages to other teams. This, unsurprisingly led to another season of Oreca Viper dominance as Porsche failed to get their new 911 homologated for GT2, Marcos fell foul of the rules when it relocated its LM600s gearbox to the rear of the car and Lister made only sporadic outings into Europe.
The Lister team always ran competitively when they were out, but were never able to better the Oreca team's combination of outright pace and honed, professional team work. Ex "works cars were fielded by Chamberlain and Paul Belmondo racing, the later brought in talented young drivers and evenmanaged to break the Oreca stranglehold once, whereas the Chamberlain cars had a mixture of good drivers and mixed quality rentadrivers, leaving them to pick up occasional podium placings.
As a result 8 Vipers headed for La Sarthe dominating GTS with 1st (10th overall), 2nd, 4th. 5th and 6th
The car also won its class in the Le Mans 24 Hours from 1998 to 2000 and took overall win at the 24 Hours of Daytona.
Le Mans, as has become the norm, stood alone as, but licenced the Le Mans name to Don Panoz to expand his Petit Le Mans race into a series called the American Le Mans series.
The story of 1999 Sportscar racing in the US was certainly the American Le Mans Series. The charismatic Don Panoz persuaded the ACO to let him run a series to Le Mans rules, and using the Le Mans moniker, in the US.
2000 was the last year for the "works" Vipers and it started well with an overall win at the Daytona 24hrs. It was also the first year that there was a new opponent in the form of the Corvette C5-R.
But Team Oreca had honed the GTS-R not only into an ultra powerful but also a reliable racer, which it proved by its third consecutive Class win at Le Mans.
From 2001 Vipers continued to race, although without factory support, meaning that at Le Mans and Daytona they now had to bow to the "works" Corvettes. But the customer Teams quickly learned enough about their cars to develop them.
By 2002 the opposition, be it Corvette, Ferrari or Lister realised that even "Veteran" Vipers "bite"! Larbre Competition taking the FIA GT title in both years
Chrysler Viper GTS-R (LM GTS "02":
Length : 4548 mm, Width: 1933 mm, Wheelbase: 2443mm, Height: 1192 mm, Tyres: Michelin 27x65-18 & 30x70-18, Wheels : BBS 11x18 & 13x18 13x18
Chrysler Viper GTS-R (Oreca "03":
Length : 4548 mm, Width: 1924 mm, Wheelbase: 2443mm, Height: 1146 mm, Tyres: Michelin 27x65-18 & 30x70-18, Wheels : BBS 12,5 x18 & 3x18
Dodge Viper GT 3
Length : 4 676 mm, Width : 1 979 mm, Height : 191 mm, Wheelbase : 2 510 mm, Front / rear tracks : 1 595 / 1 608 mm, Wheels : BBS 11x18 & 13x18 13x18
Sports racing page:http://www.geocities.com/MotorCity/Downs/1403/99races.htm#ALMS