SRT Motorsports had a mixed 52nd Rolex 24 at Daytona with one car retiring and one car revelling in podium success after a gruelling time at the Florida speedway.
The #91 Viper, which had started the race on pole had led for much of the opening hours of the race at the hands of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marc Goossens and Dominik Farnbacher until a power steering fluid line rupture overnight sent them to the garage for a fifteen minute repair.
Through sheer determination and the misfortune of others, the team managed to claw back a number of laps they had lost in the garage and fought back through the field to finish a very respectable third.
“The performance was good, but the kind of racing this is now you have one little mishap and you have to fight your whole way to get back,” said Bill Riley, Vice President and Chief Engineer of Riley Technologies, after the race. “We had a power steering line fail. We got 12 laps down and we ended up four laps down by just continuing to fight. It’s a shame because we didn’t have any other issues besides that. After that, the hood or the body never had to come off the car, so it was pretty much a flawless run besides that. We fought all day, we didn’t give up and we’re on the podium.”
Unfortunately that consistency that helped the #91 was none existent in the #93 which had a lengthy stop to repair damage after contact and then hours later had to go behind the wall to fix a driveshaft flange issue. The loss of time saw the car – piloted by Rob Bell, Kuno Wittmer and Jonathan Bomarito – finish were it started, sixth place.
It was the team’s first podium at the event since the previous Viper won the race in 2000 with Goossens saying after the race: “We have some great guys on the pit stand doing strategy for us. All the drivers did well. It’s just some technical issues that we’re not in control of. It’s unfortunate that it happens, but at the end of the day it’s still a podium finish at the 24 Hours of Daytona. I think it’s a great return for Viper and SRT Motorsports at this venue and mainly I think very important that we take valuable points for the championship. This was only the first race. There’s a lot more to come this year.”
The SRT team will be hoping that their luck can change going in to the second round of the TUDOR Championship at Sebring in March.