DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 21, 2015) – The TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Riley Motorsports team confirmed its driver lineup for its pair of Dodge Viper GT3-Rs that will be wheeled by eight different drivers in this weekend’s 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The season-opening event of the 2015 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season, the Rolex 24 At Daytona can be seen in live coverage on FOX for the first two hours of the day-long race beginning this Saturday, January 24, at 2 p.m. EST. In total, more than 15 hours of live race coverage will be televised on FOX networks this weekend, with the majority airing on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2. The broadcast schedule includes the final seven hours of the race and post-checkered flag coverage on FOX Sports 1, Sunday, January 25.
TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com returns to Daytona International Speedway following a successful Roar Before the Rolex 24 test on the legendary 3.56-mile road course just two weekends ago. Both the No. 33 and No. 93 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper GT3-Rs were among the GT Daytona (GTD) class pacesetters at the Roar test and the team is optimistic for a similarly strong showing in this weekend’s race.
Team driver and ViperExchange.com principal Ben Keating and debuting team driver Al Carter have been listed on both the No. 33 and No. 93 Vipers for the Rolex 24. Keating is running the full IMSA TUDOR Championship season with returning teammate Jeroen Bleekemolen in addition to aiming for the 2015Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (NAEC) GTD title.
Keating and Bleekemolen won two races last year in the first GTD season for the Viper GT3-R and ViperExchange.com and even better results are expected in 2015 in the new partnership with TI Automotive. A leading global supplier of automotive fluid systems technology, TI Automotive announced its new partnership with ViperExchange.com in a press conference at Daytona on the Friday of the Roar.
”It is so amazing to be teamed up with a partner like TI Automotive,” Keating said. “They've helped squeeze every ounce of power out of our fuel system, and helped us improve fuel economy and helped improve the efficiency of our air-conditioning system. It is amazing, it truly is much more than a sponsorship, it is a partnership designed to get both ViperExchange.com and TI Automotive into Victory Circle.”
Keating and Carter, who is racing with TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com in the NAEC this year, are listed on both entries for the Rolex 24 to double their chances for a strong start to the four-race NAEC championship, which also includes this year’s endurance races at Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
“The odds and probabilities of racing show how hard it is for any driver or team to be on the podium after 24 hours,” Carter said. “This particular year, I am honored to be part of this Riley Motorsports team that, combined with the support of TI Automotive and Viper Exchange, has these Vipers prepared to fight those odds and perform. The work that been put in by the crew, combined with the depth of all eight drivers, has us more than ready to go.”
“We want to win the championship,” Keating said. “The TUDOR series is competitive and the number of cars in GTD makes our class ultra-tough. We think we have put together the best people and are coming in with the championship on our mind. We are very optimistic. We learned a lot last year and think we can be more consistent, which is what the championship is all about.”
Goossens shared the No. 33 at the Roar with Bleekemolen’s brother, Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, and debuting team driver, Al Carter, who also tested in the No. 93. Carter co-drove the No. 93 throughout the weekend with reigning IMSA GTLM Champion Kuno Wittmer, Dominik Farnbacher and two-time Trans Am TA2 Champion Cameron Lawrence. The No. 93 clocked in second fastest overall in GTD at the Roar with a top lap of 1:47.245 (119.502 mph), which was also set in the Friday afternoon session.
Along with most other teams at the test, TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com sat out the weekend’s eighth and final session late Sunday afternoon after steady rain showers hit the Daytona area most of the day.
Next up for TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Riley Motorsports is the Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 22 – 25, back at Daytona International Speedway. The race can be seen in more than 15 hours of live television coverage, including the opening two hours on FOX at 2 p.m. EST, Saturday, January 24. The majority of the live coverage will be on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2, including the final seven hours and post-race coverage on FOX Sports 1, Sunday, January 25.
Additional Team and Driver Quotes
Ben Keating – “Having a second car for the Rolex 24 is not something most people can do. As we all know, anything can happen in a 24-hour race and having a second car is literally doubling our chances of being there in the end. We think we have a car that can be consistent and last the long haul. We just have to keep both cars clean and in the hunt.”
Sebastiaan Bleekemolen – “I think the car is much more reliable this year. We have to keep in mind that we were the only Viper GT3-R running worldwide last year in endurance races, so we’ve had to discover everything ourselves. Just compare that to Porsche, for example. I really look forward to this season and I have high expectations!”
Al Carter – “Riley and this Viper team are coming off some changes from last year's success and championship-winning campaign. Though the cars might not be red this year, the speed of the cars, the knowledge of the team and the talent of the drivers has not changed. I consider myself extremely lucky to be part of the TI Automotive and Viper Exchange Riley program this year, and it is by far my best chance to perform for a solid result in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.”
Dominik Farnbacher – “It was a great experience to come back here with almost the same people we had last year. A lot of the same faces, the same mechanics and almost the same car. It is a GTD car now, different tires, different engine, different gearbox, everything is GTD spec now, but it seems to work very well. Our development paid off and the test was very good. We tried out different settings and all of the different drivers just to get them comfortable in the car and they all did a good job. We are more than positive that the race will end pretty well.”
Marc Goossens – “We're not in the GTLM class anymore but the GTD field has proven to be very competitive. Of course, the rules of the two GT classes are very different, so there is no comparison in handling and the electronics on the cars, but the feel you get in a Viper remains very special. After having assisted in the testing program of the GTD car both in the U.S. and Europe, I look forward to racing the car on the banking. Hopefully we can start this campaign with a good result at the Rolex 24 for TI Automotive and Viper Exchange.”
Kuno Wittmer – “First off, we need to give a big thank you, a big shout out to TI Automotive and Viper Exchange. Without them, we wouldn’t be here, the three or four drivers we have wouldn’t be able to pull it off, so it’s really thanks to them. The hard-working team and talented crew that we were mostly able to retain from last year are championship-winning guys, so why not pull them into this new program. So far, the GT3-R comparatively to the GTLM car we drove last year is quite different. We are on some different rubber, a lot less electronics, but it has some advantages in certain areas too. Overall, we are looking pretty good, so far the package is strong."
Matt Bejnarowicz, Lead Engineer, No. 93 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Viper GT3-R – “The test went really well. The good news is all of our drivers did an awesome job. We never dropped a wheel off the track, we focused on what we had to, and the cars are as exactly as clean as when they arrived. The cars ran flawless, we did have what I would call some early-season teething pains – these cars get torn apart and then get all put back together – and we had a lot of new parts integration and improvements we are trying to make. We had a chance to kind of shake out all of those bugs and make sure we get the gremlins out before we start running for 24 hours. The guys back at the shop in North Carolina definitely have no rest ahead of them. They have to get everything turned around, everything cleaned up, a lot of little details, even presentation details to make sure that all of the team gear and everything is up to snuff, a lot of work.”
Tyler Hook, Lead Engineer, No. 33 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Viper GT3-R – “We accomplished pretty much most of the test items that we came here with and we were able to check them off, so the rain didn’t cut into our testing program too bad. Sunday we were just working on a little bit of engine mapping for the race, for yellow-flag conditions and stuff like that, which we were going to try and run but now we will have to wait until we come back. Not a big deal really. I don’t know about anybody else, but we were certainly trying as hard as we could the last few days. We were definitely trying to run hard as otherwise you don’t really learn anything in testing.”
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About ViperExchange.com:ViperExchange.com is the largest Dodge Viper and exotic cars licensed dealer located just Northwest of Houston, Texas. With over 100 Dodge Vipers typically for sale and more arriving daily for sale, ViperExchange.com has combined the largest inventory in the world of new and pre-owned Dodge Vipers. ViperExchange.com also offers the best prices and discounts. Special orders, specific model searches and financing options are also available. For more information, visit ViperExchange.com directly, Twitter @ViperExchange and Facebook at Facebook.com/Viper-Exchange.