No. 93 ViperExchange.com /TI Automotive/Riley Motorsports Viper GT3-R Team Wins Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup
Viper Team and Drivers Lawrence, Carter and Goossens Seal NAEC GT Daytona Honors After Leading First Segment at Petit Le Mans
BRASELTON, Georgia (October 3, 2015) – The No. 93 ViperExchange.com /TI Automotive/Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R team clinched the 2015 Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (NAEC) GT Daytona (GTD) Championship after winning the opening segment at today’s Petit Le Mans, and then went on to score a GTD class podium finish in the season-ending race at Road Atlanta.
Marc Goossens was leading the GTD division in the No. 93 at the end of the first segment in the race’s fourth hour, which was good enough to clinch the season-long honor for the team and his co-drivers Cameron Lawrence and Al Carter.
“We knew for sure they could cut it short but didn't know when that was going to happen, so I had to use every opportunity to go by traffic, especially on restarts,” said Goossens, who co-drove the No. 93 in the last three of the season’s four Tequila Patrón NAEC races. “I felt strong on restarts and I could tell that other people were having more difficulty getting heat to the tires. The team did a great job again, my co-drivers did great and we got the championship in for Al and Cameron after four hours.”
The Tequila Patrón NAEC is a four-race endurance competition within the overall IMSA TUDOR Championship schedule that awards segment points in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and Petit Le Mans.
“It's so rare, especially in the game of racing, when you set a plan that you run for a title in just four races and actually win it given the competition we face race in and race out,” Carter said. “We won this, we didn't get lucky, we earned it and we led it from the first victory at Daytona and carried it all the way.”
The No. 93 team drew a line for the competition at Petit Le Mans in Friday’s qualifying when Lawrence drove the Viper to the GTD class pole in his first-ever IMSA TUDOR Championship qualifying session. He led today’s race from the start and ran up front for the majority of his opening driving shift.
“I'm thrilled that I was able to perform for the team,” Lawrence said. “It's all a team effort and qualifying doesn't really mean much, even the first two hours of the race don't really mean much in the grand scheme of things. We really wanted to win but we came out here and did our jobs. This was our job all year since Daytona and we took care of business in a big way.”
With the NAEC title wrapped up early, the No. 93 squad challenged for the overall GTD class victory in the rain-plagued finale that was called after less than the eight of the race’s scheduled 10 hours were completed.
Goossens charged from sixth to third in the final hour before the early checkered flag was displayed as dusk approached.
“We would have liked to have taken care of the end of the race too with some more green flag running, Marc was flying, but we did what we came to do, so I think everyone is happy,” Lawrence said. “I'm thrilled for the team and super excited for TI Automotive and for Viper Exchange.”
Lawrence and Carter were the only two drivers to race the No. 93 in all four NAEC events, which included race wins at Daytona and The Glen and fourth at Sebring to go along with today’s third-place finish.
ViperExchange.com principal and team driver was among the No. 93’s winning co-drivers at the Daytona opener but his run in today’s Petit Le Mans season finale did not go as well.
Co-driving with brothers Jeroen Bleekemolen and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, Keating qualified fifth in the No. 33 ViperExchange.com /TI Automotive Dodge Viper GT3-R but spun off course in the race’s opening laps.
“I have no reason to explain how I got turned around,” Keating said. I was not on the throttle, I was not pushing it, I was happy to stay in line behind the other guys, I just work my way around the track, and before I knew it I was turned the wrong way. Pretty hard hit, and we ended up not getting any laps back and finished five laps down.”
Despite his disappointment with the No. 33’s day, Keating was thrilled with the championship-clinching performance of the sister No. 93 Viper.
“I am really happy for the 93 car,” Keating said. “Cameron did an unbelievable job, qualified on the pole, but then even more impressive in these conditions today to keep it up front for two stints. They won races and segments in the rain, including the segment they need to win today. Pretty amazing, the 93 car did a great job, and I am really happy that we had two cars in the series, two cars to run, and it's been a great season for Viper, great season for Dodge, great season for Viper Exchange and I'm really hopeful we get to do it again next year.”
Riley Motorsports Team Director Bill Riley was happy with his team’s performance in a competitive but challenging season.
“I think the good thing was that every track we went to we were competitive,” Riley said. “We ran up front and we all worked together pretty hard as a team. When a team gels it just feels so natural and so right. Obviously we would have loved to end the season with a win with either the 93 or the 33 but it just wasn't our day. We had an issue on track and I made a few mistakes on the stand, so when it's not your day it's not your day.”
- Keating, who also won two races this year co-driving with Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 33, had some post-race reflections on the 2015 season. “All in all, we had a great season,” Keating said. “We had a better season than our final finishing position showed. I get to where I hate the phrase ‘that's racing’ but that's kind of the only way you can describe some of this. We had a really great season and a really crappy season. There haven't been many in between races, haven't been many races where we finished fifth or sixth, it's either in the top three or the last three.”
- Lawrence gave a great deal of credit for his success to first-year team partner TI Automotive. “Having TI Automotive on board this year is really what made this season for the No. 93 car possible,” Lawrence said. “I don't think we could have come from the back at Daytona to win without their support and resources to keep us running strong for those long 24 hours. Their level of enthusiasm has been unmatched by any other sponsor in the paddock, and their involvement with the team this year has taken this season to another level and really made it something to remember.”