SRT Vipers Withdraw from Le Mans

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

SRT Motorsports will not take part in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Sportscar365 has confirmed that the Detroit automaker has pulled its two-car factory GTE-Pro effort, ahead of next month’s deadline for the final entry deposits.

“We regretfully and respectfully decline to participate in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans,” said Ralph Gilles, President and CEO of SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC, in a statement.

“We are honored to once again be invited by the ACO to compete in this historic event, and they were the first to be informed of our decision. We will remain focused on our North American racing program in 2014.”

The Viper made its return to the twice-around-the-clock French endurance classic last year, as the first year of a planned multi-year program.

However, lower-than-expected sales of the V10-powered sports car recently forced the temporary closure of its production plant in Detroit, likely prompting a tightened budget on its motorsports programs.

The pair of Riley Technologies-built Viper GTS-Rs were due to be driven by Dominik Farnbacher, Marc Goossens, Rob Bell (No. 93) and Jonathan Bomarito, Kuno Wittmer and Jeroen Bleekemolen (No. 94).

As a result, the first two GTE reserve entries, the No. 66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia and Team Taisan’s Ferrari, will soon be confirmed for the race.

SRT’s withdrawal leaves Corvette Racing and Dempsey Racing-Proton, plus the FIA WEC season-long 8Star Motorsports squad, as the only American efforts in this year’s race.

As Gilles stated, their focus will remain on the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, with both cars having been entered for next month’s round at Long Beach.

40 Comments

  1. Matt

    March 24, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Wow… Racing is expensive.

  2. jack

    March 24, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Logan

    March 24, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    :(

  4. Denz

    March 24, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    Wow, this sucks big time.

  5. Tim

    March 24, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    WHAT?!?!

  6. joe

    March 24, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    wish they would take the reserves from gte pro (risi)

    • Tim

      March 24, 2014 at 6:43 pm

      Risi is a rebranded krohn racing. It’s #57 and Tracy krohn is the driver. As much as I would like to see them I don’t think they would be competitive in pro. All there drivers are driving other Ferraris in the race.

    • Byron Gacitua Ossandon

      March 25, 2014 at 8:24 am

      Risi/Krohn withdrew his reserve entry

  7. The Brad

    March 24, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Say it isn’t so!

    So how many American teams have turned down their LeMans invite?

    • wirelesscord

      March 24, 2014 at 11:28 pm

      This is widthdrawing, not turning down. Turning down would be not accepting the (automatic) invite in the first place. :P

  8. Sabrean

    March 24, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Well, it seemed like the writing had been on the wall recently after Sebring, and now it’s confirmed. It’s unfortunate that the 2 Vipers will give way to yet more 458s on the Le Mans GTE grid, I preferred the variety even if the Viper’s weren’t my favourites. Hopefully they’ll get sales up and bring the Vipers along next year.

  9. LM mike

    March 24, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    wow this is not fair the GTE Pro lose two cars that can run the full 24 hours flat out.

    Go VIPER Go

  10. Travis

    March 24, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Budget cuts. Money controls all Motorsports.

  11. str5010

    March 24, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    This has me so angry and disappointed. I’m a huge Viper fan and was looking forward to le mans so much. There was a lot to be excited about considering even with the BOP the SRT team could have won Daytona and especially, if it wasn’t for terrible officiating, Sebring.

  12. Jerry

    March 24, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Would probably have won Sebring, but noooooo we had deal with the green white checker set up at the end of the race! (Some wish)
    ……could it be we’re not going to see much, if any TV coverage of the LeMans race this year, so that was a decision factor?

  13. JAGLeMans

    March 24, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong, I’ve only took a passing interest in the launch of the new Viper.

    With the cars struggling sales in the US, doesn’t this highlight the need for premium brands to promote & sell their product to a wider range of potential customers? When I read about premium brands doing well, it always seems to be China, Brazil, and the Middle East driving the sales success.

    Makes me wonder why the new Viper didn’t aim for this market (perhaps they did?), part of which would be an international race program, specifically the WEC.

    This alone wouldn’t turn around their fortunes, but I always thought it was wrong to “limit” themselves to a NA program. The car certainly has the European design flair, although perhaps they need a smaller engine option alongside the V10 to make it a more realistic alternative.

    • RT

      March 24, 2014 at 9:43 pm

      I agree! Corvette works because it’s cheaper and not going to kill you all the time, it’s more European(plus all of the history of Corvette). The Viper doesn’t have any of that, and is too extreme and not as fast as many of its competitors.

      • str5010

        March 24, 2014 at 9:54 pm

        Viper doesn’t have any history? Might want to check the record books on that one. No it hasn’t been around since the 50s like the Vette, but the Europeans are well aware of its dominance in world endurance racing in the late 90s/early 2000s.

    • F

      March 24, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      The viper isn’t like a corvette. Its genesis is different than a corvette. The corvette was designed as a smooth sports car while the viper was designed to be a big v10 muscle car. The viper buyer and corvette buyer are different people. If the viper were to lose the V10 it wouldn’t be a viper. The Viper can be compared to the others in terms of HP, torque, etc but it has its own unique personality that sets it apart from other premium cars.

      • Me

        March 27, 2014 at 7:21 pm

        If Porsche can sell a car with a v8, Viper can.

    • Marcel Offermans

      March 25, 2014 at 6:30 am

      I can tell you what’s hurting sales of american muscle cars in general in The Netherlands. Taxes. If you want to buy one of those new over here, you easily pay *more than twice* the price in the US. Almost all of that difference is taxes. Unless these cars can find a way to keep their large engines but make them more fuel efficient and emit less CO2, there is no way they are going to find a big market over here. Maybe that’s why they chose not to race at Le Mans. I do think it’s a big shame though, as Le Mans is infinitely more popular over here than the TUDOR USC championship.

  14. jc

    March 24, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Its all about bang for the buck.

    For non-euro based teams, it costs heaps and heaps of extra bucks to run Le Mans due to the need to move the entire operation to france for the better part of a month. For tusc teams, the price comes in addition to an already very expensive tusc series with its own 24 hour race, a 12 hour race, a 10 hour race and a 6 hour race (not to mention 2 sprint races inside concrete canyons, which are all more risky than the entirety of the WEC schedule). It also has its own BOP that they would have to adjust. Also, it means they aren’t getting any relevant points toward your tusc investment by going there, and due to the tusc schedule they are between a rock and a hard place with that poorly scheduled detroit round. And the whole chrysler presence in europe isn’t as big as chevy anyway, so it really wont have any huge impact on sales running there.

    Combine all of that and it doesnt make sense for vipers or any team outside of the vettes to go there. And if all of that doesn’t convince you, add the icing on the cake: the guaranteed virtually 100% focus of media coverage being on Porsche P1 cars vs. Audi. Game over.

    • KJ Maxwell

      March 25, 2014 at 1:44 am

      Well said,jc.

      The cost to value ratio is clearly not there for American teams, even factory efforts who stand to gain the most from competing at the LM 24. It’s just not what it used to be and many don’t care about it anymore.

  15. Richard Buckle

    March 25, 2014 at 8:56 am

    as someone who owns a Vette (C5 Z06) and a Viper (Gen IV roadster) I am probably symbolic of many Viper owners – it’s not our only car. And no, there’s few similarities between the two – the Viper isn’t a Vette and never will. But my wife and I enjoy driving it through the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming where it’s proved over the years to be a fanatstic GT against all predictions … as a Race car it embodies the true spirit of a race car – unabashed brutality and we know, we have tracked it on more than one occasion and yes it has bitten us once (well, me, not my wife). We also have a Nissan GTR (2013) that’s more or less our daily drive but it’s the complete opposite of the Viper and even though it’s parked next to the GTR in the garage, there’s no mistaking the two … Bottom line? We have the Viper so we can experience true driving where every input can be felt and realized! So sad to see so few buyers for the current generation but come the summer, I think it’s fortunes nay be reversed! Woulu I buy one? Only after I checked the piggy bank following a purchase of the upcoming Vette C7 Z06!

    • h

      March 25, 2014 at 9:04 am

      your just showing off

      • Fujis123

        March 26, 2014 at 10:58 am

        Now for the same comment with cars all of us can afford:

        As someone who owns a Jetta (A6 typ I6) and a 300D (W123 4dr) I am probably symbolic of many 300D owners – it’s not our only car. And no, there’s few similarities between the two – the 300D isn’t a Jetta and never will. But my wife and I enjoy driving it through the mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma where it’s proved over the years to be a fanatstic Sedan against all predictions … as a Diesel car it embodies the true spirit of a Diesel car – unabashed brutality and we know, we have tracked it on more than one occasion and yes it has bitten us once (well, me, not my wife, she ran out of Diesel). We also have a Chevy Trailblazer (2003) that’s more or less our daily drive but it’s the complete opposite of the 300D and even though it’s parked next to the Trailblazer in the garage, there’s no mistaking the two … Bottom line? We have the 300D so we can experience true driving where every input can be felt and realized! So sad to see so few buyers for the current generation but come the summer, I think it’s fortunes nay be reversed! Woulu I buy one? Only after I checked the piggy bank following a purchase of the upcoming Passat TDi!

        • Big

          March 31, 2014 at 3:40 pm

          lol Plus Points for nay and Woulu! :)

  16. Richard Buckle

    March 25, 2014 at 9:21 am

    not not really; more like indecision. the C5 is 2003, the vipers is 2008 and the GTR 2013 … I just couldn’t come to trading anyone in as I bought the next car :-)

    Our track car (with NASA HPDE) is the C5 Z06 and we lend out the viper to friends who visit and who like to track …as for the GTR it’s still too new and nice to track, according to the family ….

    • h

      March 25, 2014 at 9:55 am

      The average person cant afford all those at the same time. your just showing off. You took advantage of the srt withdrawal to brag.

      • Jon

        March 31, 2014 at 3:48 pm

        Exactly.

    • LM mike

      March 25, 2014 at 10:41 am

      lol keep on showing off, its interesting but Viper over Corvette.

  17. Richard Buckle

    March 25, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Ummm … This site attracts folks who like sports cars and I wasn’t aware that I would be the only one who had just one sports car. I moved to the US so I could buy cars having spent a year living, miserably, in London. I am an Aussie at heart and more to the point, a car-nutter so the move to the US (so I could afford good cars over lengthy purchase periods) seemed logical.

    No matter … When it comes to the current generation of Vipers, with the slowdown, has anyone begun to wonder what we may be paying for near new used Gen V say two to three years out? I suspect that they will take a hit and could prove to be a good buy as few will have many miles on them …. Gen V could become the steals of a lifetime shortly I suspect :-)

  18. vince

    March 25, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Fiat is the owner of Chrysler.
    Fiat is the owner of Ferrari.

    Ferrari sells more cars and makes non us tax dollars from around the world.

    Not a conflict. No, not a conflict.

  19. frank

    March 25, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    At least we will have American Representation. I have even heard that a Ford GT might enter
    this years Lemans.

    • Andy

      March 26, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      @frank You’re probably thinking of this year’s Le Mans Classic re: a Ford GT entry.

  20. Kim Peterson

    April 21, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    The Viper is the iconic American muscle car. They never have sold a lot & they never will sell a lot. Its not a corvette 20,000 per year production. Its not cheap like many other cars, it holds it value way past other cars. Viper is an adventure, its a way of life, the car is you , & you become the car. Not everyone can afford one & not every one would now what to do with one if they could afford one. Only a true and very select automotive enthusiast can even come close to appreciating the vehicle and all its greatness. This is the car that will live in the minds of true car people forever. Once you ever achieve the point in your life when you can own one, only then will you understand Viper, the legend will live on. Great cars only come around once or twice in your lifetime, this my friend is that car. Grab on before time passes you buy.

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    May 10, 2014 at 2:14 am

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