ViperExchange.com Scores Repeat Victory in Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America
Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Riley Motorsports No. 33 ViperExchange.com/ Gas Monkey Garage Dodge Viper GT3-R Team Double-Up at Road America
EELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin (August 7, 2016) – Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and the No. 33 ViperExchange.com Gas Monkey Garage Dodge Viper GT3-R Riley Motorsports team won the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase for the second-year-in-a-row Sunday at Road America.
The win was the second career victory at Road America for ViperExchange.com and second this season after first winning in Detroit in June.
After qualifying fourth on Saturday, Keating started the race and charged up to third on the first lap. He raced clean and competitively throughout his stint and handed the Viper off to Bleekemolen 53 minutes into the two-hour and 40-minute race.
“It was definitely not easy,” Keating said. “We had a really good qualifying lap, starting off in fourth place, and I had a clean stint and brought it into the pits in fourth place. Everybody on the whole team did their job, from the strategists to the pit crew going over the wall to the fueler. I did my job, Jeroen did his job, everything went right, and it was a perfect day.”
Outstanding pit work by the Riley Motorsports team put Bleekemolen back in the race in third after the driver change pit stop. He took the lead for the first time a few minutes later when the rest of the GTD field cycled through for their pit stops.
Bleekemolen pitted for the second and final time 55 minutes from the finish and, in a near repeat of the first flawless stop, retook the lead for good less than 10 minutes later.
“It was awesome,” Bleekemolen said. “We had a lot of pressure from Robin Liddell the whole time, and I could just stay ahead. The team did a great job of getting me there again with strategy, and Ben did a first opening stint that was really good.”
Bleekemolen and ViperExchange.com had a slight scare when a late full-course caution tightened the field. The race went green again with just under six minutes to go and Bleekemolen, shaking off a minor driving mistake in the mad dash to the finish, successfully defended the lead to the checkered flag. The winning margin of victory was 1.76 seconds.
“I just had to stay where I was, which really wasn’t easy today, especially with that yellow in the end,” Bleekemolen said. “I just made it, we got pretty close with a couple of cars, but we made it.”
As they have all season, Riley Motorsports kept ViperExchange.com in the hunt for today’s victory with outstanding pit work and execution. Keating and Bleekemolen can’t praise the team enough.
“The team, they just never let you down, they always have the perfect pit stop, a good race car,” Bleekemolen said. “The car was perfect again to drive as well, good balance, and the tire pressures were always right on. So, just perfect.”
Bill Riley is Riley Motorsports Team Director and a principal of that company and Riley Technologies, which designed and builds the Dodge Viper GT3-R.
“Jeroen did an awesome stint, the guys did perfect pit stops, and that’s what we need,” Riley said. “Ben started in fourth place, brought it in in fourth place with the car clean, and that’s the foundation you need to go from there. Everything clicked today but it was a tough day. We had people breathing down our neck the whole time.”
The Road America repeat is the second time ViperExchange.com has scored consecutive race wins at a track since the GTD division was introduced in 2014.
The No. 33 team is the two-time consecutive and defending race winners at Circuit of The Americas (COTA), the Texas home track for Keating and ViperExchange.com that will host the penultimate round of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech Championship in September.
Today’s victory also gave Keating, Bleekemolen and ViperExchange.com a boost in the 2016 IMSA GTD driver and team championships.
Unofficially, Keating, Bleekemolen and the No. 33 team have moved to third in the GTD team and driver championship standings with 222 points.
They are now a full 10 points ahead of the fourth-place team and drivers and just six points behind the second-place No. 44 Audi team. The first-place No. 63 Ferrari squad has 243 points.
Next up for ViperExchange.com and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR), August 26 – 28. The race can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) at 1:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, August 28.
- The ViperExchange.com 33 is the only IMSA GTD team to earn at least two race wins a season since the class was introduced in 2014. Keating and Bleekemolen drove to victories that year at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and COTA. Last year’s victories were at Road America and COTA while 2016’s victories so far came today and in June at Detroit.
- While the Viper GT3-R was far from the fastest car in today’s race, Keating still feels the current performance rules are where they should be. “I feel like the field is pretty well balanced now,” Keating said. “In a balance of performance type of class, all you can expect from everyone is that each car is competitive. Theoretically, if you run a perfect race every time, you should end up there, and that’s what we’ve been able to do. It sounds weird but I’m excited to be middle of the pack. I’m not asking to be the fastest car. I’m asking to be competitive.”
- Today’s victory was the third in the last four years for a Dodge Viper in IMSA competition at Road America. In addition to ViperExchange.com GTD wins today and in 2015, the former SRT Viper GT Le Mans (GTLM) program scored its first win at Road America in 2013.
- Bleekemolen further established himself in the Road America record books with today’s victory. He has put together an amazing run of five wins in seven career races at Road America. He co-drove to ALMS GTC victories from 2010 through 2012 and finished second in the class in 2013. He finished fourth with Keating and ViperExchange.com in 2014 before co-driving to the victories today and last year in the No. 33.
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.