ViperExchange.com Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R Team Returns to Daytona Determined to Repeat in The Rolex 24
Defending Rolex 24 Winners Return with Eight Drivers and Gas Monkey Garage and #TeamTexas Dodge Viper GT3-Rs
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (January 27, 2016)Defending Rolex 24 At Daytona GT Daytona (GTD) race winners ViperExchange.com and Riley Motorsports return to Daytona International Speedway this weekend determined to score a repeat victory in the 54th running of America’s premier 24-hour race.
The Rolex 24 At Daytona kicks off the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship racing season and can be seen live in combined and continuous programming on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), FOX Sports 2 (FS2) and IMSA.com. Coverage begins this Saturday, January 30, at 2 p.m. EST on FOX Sports 1 to open 16 hours of live Rolex 24 programming across its FS1 and FS2 cable networks. The remainder of the race can be followed through live streaming and commentary on IMSA.com.
The two-car ViperExchange.com attack includes the No. 33 Gas Monkey Garage Energy Dodge Viper GT3-R and the No. 93 “Don’t mess with Texas” #TeamTexas Dodge Viper GT3-R, which was driven to the GTD-class victory in the 2015 Rolex 24.
Team and ViperExchange.com principal Ben Keating, one of the co-drivers in last year’s Rolex 24 victory, will race both the No. 33 and No. 93 Vipers in the Rolex 24 for the second year in a row.
“No doubt, I am excited,” Keating said. “I would say cautiously optimistic. As I've said over and over, I feel like every car is a long shot in a 24 hour race, but I definitely feel like we have done all the preparation to have a great race. Plus, with running one car in 2014 and two cars in 2015, we have the history of running three Rolex 24 races with the Viper GT3-R. There aren't many teams out there that can say that, not to mention one of those races led to Victory Lane. I feel really good.”
Keating will co-drive the Gas Monkey Garage Energy No. 33 with full-season teammate Jeroen Bleekemolen as well as Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Miller. The #TeamTexas No. 93 will be driven by Keating, Jeff Mosing, Eric Foss, Gar Robinson and Damien Faulkner.
Both new Viper liveries were seen in the IMSA paddock for the first time yesterday, less than a week after the Gas Monkey Garage Energy drink partnership was announced at Gas Monkey Garage headquarters in Dallas.
“The anticipation of the Rolex 24 has gotten even larger with the Gas Monkey Racing partnership,” Keating said. “Those guys have a humongous following. We will be on the largest stage we've ever been on, and I am excited about where this whole thing might go over the rest of the 2016 season. I want to have a strong showing in the Rolex 24 and set the stage for Gas Monkey to bring a whole new crowd into the sports car racing fan base. The only real appropriate response is: ‘GET YOU SOME OF THAT!’”
The #TeamTexas Viper celebrates the four Texans in the No. 93 – Keating, Mosing, Foss and Robinson – who have adopted Irishman Faulkner as official member of the Lone Star State for the weekend.
Faulkner joins Bleekemolen, a native of Holland, and Germany’s Farnbacher as the three Europeans on the ViperExchange.com Daytona driver lineup.
“Bill Riley runs this team as if we are a factory team, similar to the SRT/Dodge days,” Bleekemolen said. “That's something that will certainly help us fight for wins again. In my opinion, this team is up there with the best in the world, and I have raced for quite a few teams now.”
Farnbacher drives the No. 33 this weekend but joins Keating as the only drivers on this year’s ViperExchange.com Daytona team that was part of the 2015 Rolex 24 victory.
“Last year we obviously had a strong package with the drivers, team and car," Farnbacher said. “We took it serious and made it a run for the watch. It would be a dream come true if we could defend the title at the Rolex 24. My team this year has a great line up and, with Bill whispering in my ears, nothing really can go wrong.”
Miller, who is making his Rolex 24 debut after first racing with ViperExchange.com last year in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, feels right at home with the Riley Motorsports team.
“Continuity is very important as this is truly a team sport, from the driver lineup, engineering staff and right down to the crew,” Miller said. “I felt like I got along well with the team last year and took each moment in small steps. This team is a winning team and to be entrusted with the task of joining them behind the wheel is both exciting and humbling.”
Miller’s first career race in a Viper came at the wheel of the No. 93 last may at Laguna Seca, co-driving with Mosing, who returns to the same car this weekend.
“To be a part of it is certainly a dream for me,” Mosing said. “I will also have my two brothers and their family here to pull for us, which makes it even more special.”
Mosing brings Foss to the team, his teammate in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge the last few seasons. They co-drove to an IMSA Continental Tire ST victory from the pole in their very first race together at Daytona in 2014.
“Anytime I have Jeff Mosing as a teammate I know it's going to be a fun event and that we will be with a top-level program,” Foss said. “Jeff raced in the 93 Viper last year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and told me he had a great time in the car. I'm excited to experience that with him at Daytona.”
“Robinson is the reigning Trans Am TA2 Champion and Rookie of The Year. He clinched both titles at Daytona last November and makes his Rolex 24 debut this weekend. He is more than accustomed to the heat generated in a big-bore Trans Am race car but hasn’t encountered such extremes in the Viper.
“The biggest surprise is that the AC in this thing is great,” Robinson said. “I've never had a car with AC, and that's awesome, it just makes driving these things so much easier, I don't even have to have air in the helmet. It is great to see how the guys on the team are so serious about everything. It's definitely a big learning curve but I'm embracing it with everything I have, I'm really happy with that and I think we will do really well.”
The Rolex 24 At Daytona begins with practice and qualifying and the race’s only night practice tomorrow, Thursday, January 28. Final practice on Friday sets the stage for Saturday’s start of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, with the green flag scheduled to drop at 2:40 p.m. EST.
- For the first time in the history of the Viper GT3-R IMSA program, the No. 33 will carry an onboard camera for the Rolex 24. “For the first time ever, the No. 33 will have one of the IMSA in-car cameras for the race. Believe it or not, this builds a little more anticipation. I am excited that fans will be able to literally watch the race from the hood of our car, but that also means that every single move we make, whether good or bad, will be open for the world to watch. I think this will make for a much more interesting viewing experience for all the Viper faithful. I envision them sitting at home with two screens up, one for the race and one from the car.”
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, Twitter @ViperExchange and Facebook at Facebook.com/Viper-Exchange.
About Gas Monkey Garage: In 2002, Richard Rawlings launched Gas Monkey Garage. The Garage created and transported automobiles for customers worldwide. Since 2012, the facility has been the focus of the Discovery Channel series 'Fast N' Loud.' In September 2013, Rawlings started Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill in Northwest Dallas with a second location at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport opened in March 2014. In October 2014, Gas Monkey Live, a venue dedicated predominantly to live music, was opened. In May 2015, Rawlings published his first autobiography entitled Fast N’ Loud: Blood, Sweat and Beers. In 2016, Gas Monkey Garage will partner in three motorsports efforts with the ViperExchange.com Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Gas Monkey Garage Special in the 100th Indy 500 and the Laughlin Motorsports Pro Stock in the NHRA Mello Yello Series