Viper Exchange, TI Automotive and Riley Motorsports First Reserve on 2015 Le Mans 24 Hour Entry List

Winning Rolex 24 Team Moves a Step Closer to Competing in 83rd Le Mans 24 Hours

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (February 5, 2015)ViperExchange.com, TI Automotive and Riley Motorsports have been named the first reserve on the entry list for the 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, June 13 – 14, at Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France.

The news was part of today’s annual press conference in Paris in which the prestigious Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) invites 56 teams to participate in each year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race. The No. 53 Riley Motorsports-TI Automotive GTE-Am entry was named the first of seven reserve entries and will be in line for a possible chance to participate in the race if one of today’s invitees withdraws in the coming weeks.

Competing in the legendary Le Man race would be another step in the new and race-winning partnership between ViperExchange.com, TI Automotive and Riley Motorsports. The possible chance to race in the world’s most famous 24-hour automobile race follows a victory less than two weeks ago by the debuting collaboration in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, North America’s premier twice-around-the-clock endurance race.

In the January 24 – 25 Rolex 24, team drivers Ben Keating, Al Carter, Cameron Lawrence, Kuno Wittmer and Dominik Farnbacher raced from last on the starting grid to the GT Daytona (GTD) class victory in the No. 93 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper GT3-R.

Keating would be among the team’s drivers for the Le Mans campaign, partnering with second-year teammate and former Le Mans class winner, Jeroen Bleekemolen, the listed driver on the entry that was formally designated the first reserve today in Paris. In the event a slot opens up, and the ACO extends an invite to the No. 53 team to participate in the race in the near future, the third driver and all other team details would be confirmed in the following weeks.

“It’s an honor to even have this much of a chance to participate in the amazing event that is the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” Keating said. “We are grateful to the ACO for finding room for us on the reserve list, we are a step closer than we were yesterday and hope to have the chance to race at Le Mans in June. If you are a race car driver in professional sports car road racing at any level, the pinnacle of the sport, every driver’s goal has to be racing at Le Mans.”

Bleekemolen, who co-drove to a 2008 LMP2 class victory at Le Mans, also won two GTD races last year with Keating in the IMSA TUDOR Championship.

“The 24 Hours of Le Mans is always a highlight on the calendar,” Bleekemolen said. “The atmosphere during race week, and to drive the track itself, is just amazing. I have many great memories of the race but winning there stands out. To be on top of the podium with all the fans in front of you is a special feeling. I hope to be able to get another win at Le Mans.”

The recent Rolex 24 victory came in the on-track race debut of the new partnership between TI Automotive, ViperExchange.com and Riley Motorsports. Both the winning entry and the team’s sister No. 33 Viper GT3-R featured several TI Automotive high-performance systems for the first time, including the fuel pump delivery and driver air conditioning systems. In both cases, TI Automotive engineers tuned current production Viper components to Riley specifications. The technology transfer resulted in significant weight savings and optimized engine efficiencies for more power.

In addition to a full IMSA TUDOR Championship season for the No. 33, the No. 93 entry will contest this year’s four-race Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (NAEC). The team leads the NAEC standings after the Daytona opener and the following rounds include the 12 Hours of Sebring, Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Potentially adding Le Mans to that list of prestigious endurance races this year is a logical move for ViperExchange.com, TI Automotive and Riley Motorsports.

"Being able to race at Le Mans this year would be a highlight addition to a season that has already moved off to a great start with TI Automotive and Viper Exchange,” said Bill Riley, Riley Motorsports Director. “We want to follow up the Rolex 24 win with more victories and strong results in the year’s remaining endurance races and win both the TUDOR Championship, the Tequila Patrón Cup and, hopefully, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As always, we will begin preparing right now as if we are racing at Le Mans in June and hope for the best.”

Next up for the TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Riley Motorsports team is the 12 Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida at Sebring International Raceway, March 18 – 21.

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.


 

Last-To-First Victory for No. 93 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper GT3-R in the Rolex 24 At Daytona

 

 

Both Team Entries Lead As Ben Keating, Al Carter, Cameron Lawrence, Kuno Wittmer and Dominik Farnbacher Win in TI Automotive Technology and Partnership Debut With ViperExchange.com and Riley Motorsports 

 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 28, 2015) – TI Automotive, ViperExchange.com and Riley Motorsports kicked-off their new technology and marketing partnership in winning style at this past weekend’s Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 24 – 25, where team drivers Ben Keating, Al Carter, Cameron Lawrence, Kuno Wittmer and Dominik Farnbacher raced from last on the starting grid to the GT Daytona (GTD) class victory in the No. 93 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper GT3-R.

The win came in the on-track race debut of the new partnership with ViperExchange.com and Riley Motorsports and featured several TI Automotive high-performance systems on both team Viper GT3-Rs for the first time, including the fuel pump delivery and driver air conditioning systems. In both cases, TI Automotive engineers tuned current production Viper components to Riley specifications. The technology transfer resulted in significant weight savings and optimized engine efficiencies for more power.

The winning No. 93 Viper joined the sister No. 33 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com entry – driven by Keating, Carter, Marc Goossens and brothers Sebastiaan and Jeroen Bleekemolen – as the GTD cars to beat in the grueling, twice-around-the-clock race on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course. Both entries led in the GTD class during the race but any chance for a possible one-two finish went away early Sunday morning when the No. 33 was hampered by electrical issues.

With the No. 33 out of winning contention, and eventually retiring in the race’s final hour, the No. 93 team stepped up to carry TI Automotive and ViperExchange.com honors. Wittmer put the No. 93 in the lead for good with just over six hours remaining and then joined Farnbacher, who drove the Viper to the finish, in staying up front for the final quarter of the race. The winning margin of victory was 7.588 seconds.

 

The win capped an amazing run that saw the No. 93 team race to the victory from last place on the 53-car starting field following an incident in Thursday qualifying. Both Wittmer and the No. 93 were lucky to escape unscathed after a 180 mph spin, but a necessary tire change forced them to the back of the starting field as IMSA rules call for all entries to start the race on the same tires used in qualifying.

With the No. 93 rolling off from the back of the grid on Saturday, starting driver Keating began the charge to the front and picked up several positions in his race-opening stint. He was emotionally and visibly moved 24 hours later when the team completed the amazing last-to-first victory.

“Unbelievable win for our team,” said Keating, who is also the principal of ViperExchange.com. “I would say I was first a Viper racer but then became a Viper seller. I'm a car dealer in Texas, the No. 1 volume Viper dealer in the world, and it's something I'm very passionate about. The joy of being able to win the Rolex 24 in a Viper is, well, emotional. This means a lot.”

Keating was also quick to give credit to the new partnership with TI Automotive that came home a winner the first time out.

“We brought on a new sponsor this year with TI Automotive, which was really much more of a partnership on the technical side with the fueling system and even making our air conditioning more efficient in the car,” Keating said. “Combine that with all of the incredible elements that won Kuno the driver's championship last year in GT Le Mans that have trickled down into our program and it is just really special.”

TI Automotive first raced with Viper and Riley Motorsports last year in the IMSA TUDOR Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) division, debuting at the Brickyard Grand Prix.

“We had an amazing opportunity to share some blue and green TI Automotive affection and the winners and champions shined through,” said Al Deane, TI Automotive Chief Technology Officer. “We were not around for the birth and growth of this team but I know back home in Auburn Hills, Michigan there are a lot of happy and proud parents at Dodge, Mopar, SRT and our company headquarters. We know in global business that high-performance, winning teams require diverse, multi-cultural, great people with strong relationships. We are so proud of this team and the great relationships that we have already quickly established. It is going to be an amazing and sizzling season.”

The No. 93 squad, then racing a Viper GTS-R, captured the 2014 GTLM team championship while Wittmer won the GTLM driver title. He and his GTLM teammates, Farnbacher and Goossens, were invited to join the TI Automotive, ViperExchange.com, Riley Motorsports GTD program at Daytona. Most of last year’s winning GTLM crew and the familiar number 93 were also made part of the 2015 Rolex 24 program that will also contest the remaining rounds of this year’s Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (NAEC).

“Looking at Ben's emotions basically sums up everything,” Wittmer said. “Everything that we've achieved and everything we've done so far. We're not just weekend warriors or weekend hires. We're family, maybe more than that, we've worked together since 2012, and some of us before that. The confidence that I have in the team and my teammates is extraordinary, everything just fits, everything just works, and I’m so grateful we were able to retain last year’s championship-winning team. I think through the cooperation of Ben Keating and Bill Riley, and the support of TI Automotive, we were able to keep us together, retain the family, and get it going again.”

Farnbacher won his second Rolex 24 in a GT division a full decade after capturing his first title in his Daytona debut in 2005.

“Last year in the GTLM class we were pretty close and finished third from the pole,” Farnbacher said. “This year, Riley and, of course, Ben Keating and TI Automotive made it possible for us to compete again and to repeat the whole program but just in a different class, different category, and this time we were lucky and were strong enough to win. It means a lot to us, all of us. We're all very emotional at the moment. It's a big achievement for Chrysler, for the Viper people, the Viper Nation.”

Major contributors to the No. 93’s win were debuting team drivers Carter and Lawrence. Carter joined Keating in racing both the No. 33 and No. 93 Vipers, a move that maximized their opportunities in the Tequila Patrón NAEC, while Lawrence made his endurance race debut after most recently winning last year’s Trans Am TA2 Championship in a Dodge Challenger.

 

“I was lucky enough to get asked by Ben and Bill to come test in November and got the opportunity to do this race,” Lawrence said. “It is my first 24 and to win with this group of guys and Viper Exchange and TI Automotive is unreal. I don't think it's sunk in yet. Like Dom said, we're all very emotional. This is something for me I never thought would happen, at least not this soon, my first time. I just don't have any words for it to explain it correctly, I've just got to thank all the guys, the crew, all the guys that made this happen, and to let me win with this group of drivers and these guys is unbelievable.”

Carter drove a combined six different times in the No. 33 and No. 93 Vipers in a virtual iron-man performance in the first three quarters of the race.

“Like Cameron, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity by Ben and Bill to test with them and quickly what I realized was they had the best prepared team and the best personnel that I've encountered in my relatively short career,” Carter said. “So, for me it's kind of an honor to be a part of the team, receive a Rolex and be part of it with these guys, you call it like a tombstone moment because that's how special it is. Since it's not my first win like Cameron's, I know how difficult they are and what has to go right, and Riley, TI Automotive, Viper Exchange and all of these guys that have been working together for the last couple of years, they won this race because of their ethic, how they prepared and their talent. For me it's very special.”

The No. 93 team, and drivers Carter, Lawrence, Wittmer and Farnbacher, also left Daytona with an early lead in the Tequila Patrón NAEC after some key strategy and driver-change calls by the Riley Motorsports team. The team won three of four GTD NAEC segments, which allocated points based on class running order at the conclusion of each quarter of the Rolex 24. In addition to being up front at the finish, the No. 93 also led at the six and 18-hour marks and was second in hour 12.

The No. 33 also officially led the race at the end of five different hours, including hours two and three with Jeroen Bleekemolen at the wheel and later in hours 15 and 16 with Keating and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen at the controls. Goossens also ran second in the No. 33 to then race leader Farnbacher in the No. 93 in their opening stints.

“The 33 car had a pretty good start of the race,” Goossens said. “I think we were about 16 or 17 hours in early on Sunday morning when we had a crank sensor on the engine get damaged internally. We went down 16 laps or so trying to fix it and get it to run. It was the only flaw in the race for us but unfortunately a big delay. If not for that, we could have been high up there and we were.”

Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, three years older than brother Jeroen, also led in the No. 33 in his race-opening stint and was later at the wheel and up front when the car quit early Sunday morning.

“At first it was great,” Sebastiaan Bleekemolen said. “I got in just before it got dark and I was in for two hours and we continued to lead the race. I was doing fine all of the race and then, during my last stint, all of the sudden the engine stopped. We found out it was an electrical problem. It’s really a shame because I think we had a good shot at the win but this is racing and this is how it goes. Hopefully we can come back stronger next year.”

Next up for the TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Riley Motorsports team is the 12 Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida at Sebring International Raceway, March 18 – 21.

 

Noteworthy

- The No. 93 team’s victory was the first for a Viper at Daytona since 2000 when Dodge Viper GTS-R drivers Olivier Beretta, Karl Wendlinger and Dominique Dupuy scored an overall Rolex 24 victory that has become legendary with Viper enthusiasts and fans around the world.

- The Rolex 24 opener marked the return to competition for Viper GT3-R chassis 001 which was severely damaged in a first-hour fire in last March’s 12 Hours of Sebring. Keating, who escaped uninjured from the Sebring blaze, joined his teammates Jeroen and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen in leading the race this past weekend in the original and returning 001 No. 33. The winning No. 93, Viper GT3-R chassis No. 004, is the same car Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen drove to victories last year at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and Circuit of The Americas, standing in as No. 33 while 001 was being repaired. Chassis 004 now has three wins in the last seven IMSA TUDOR Championship GTD races.

- Wittmer has endless praise for the winning Rolex 24 effort. “Viper Exchange and TI Automotive are two organizations with great people and great passion, and that’s the key behind the whole thing. They put a great car on the grid and the Viper was very, very competitive. The team was on point and the Viper was just so good. The car was there, the reliability of the car was there, and we never had an issue once, never put the wheel off into the grass once by any of us. The team never missed a beat, and that’s what you need to do. There’s not even a scratch on the car. Although we were not the quickest cars on track, we were the smartest team, and here we are.”

- While the TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Riley Motorsports team is made up of drivers and crew members from around the world, Lawrence scored a victory for the local crowd. The Orlando, Florida resident scored the biggest win of his young career at his home track, the same circuit where he also clinched the last two Trans Am titles. “I think it gave me a little bit of an advantage being my home track and having won a couple of championships here. This race is something I started coming to as a fan and getting to watch, but the first time I came here I never thought about driving. To get here, especially being my first one with such a good team and group of guys who I really look up to after watching them since I started is very unreal and emotional. I don’t think it will sink in until next week or so.”

About TI Automotive: Fluid thinking™ shapes the mindset of TI Automotive. Global automotive manufacturers turn to TI Automotive to develop and produce industry-leading automotive fluid systems technology. Two-thirds of the world’s vehicles contain technology from TI Automotive. With 24,000 employees over 130 locations in 29 countries, our strength lies in our ability to creatively meet and exceed the increasing fuel economy and emissions regulations of tomorrow’s auto industry. For more information, visit www.tiautomotive.com, Twitter @TI_Racing #TIRacingDaytona and Facebook at TI Automotive Racing.

 

 



TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper GT3-Rs Lead Rolex 24 At Daytona

 

 

No. 33 and No. 93 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Entries Both in Lead-Pack Contention as the Rolex 24 Hit Halfway Mark

 

 

 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 25, 2015) – Both TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper GT3-Rs have led early and often during the first half of the 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona and remain in lead-pack contention as the race heads into the early-morning over-night hours.

 

 

 

 
Ben Keating and brothers Jeroen and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen each led during the opening hours of the race in the No. 33 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper GT3-R. Teammates Dominik Farnbacher and Kuno Wittmer also led in the first half of the race in the sister No. 93 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com entry.

 

 

 

“It is going great, the car is running perfect so hopefully we can keep it like that,” Jeroen Bleekemolen said. “We have to stay clean, sometimes it’s hard because the racing is heating up, you can feel the competition pushing harder and harder, which is normal. You just have to be cautious not to push too hard yet.”

 

 

 

In addition to the five drivers that led, the first 12 hours of the race featured outstanding debut stints by new team drivers Cameron Lawrence and Al Carter. Lawrence raced to as high as third in his first ever Rolex 24 driving shift while Carter – who joins Keating in driving both the No. 33 and No. 93 this weekend – rarely dropped out of the top five and ran as high as fourth at the wheel of the No. 33.

 

 

 

“The fights for the lead are great because it’s like sprint racing all along with some of the best sports car drivers in the world,” Jeroen Bleekemolen said. “You then have amateurs mixed in that you have to overtake or that sometimes overtake you with a quicker car. It’s challenging but it is also part of this race and I like it.”

 

 

 

 
Marc Goossens also turned in a typically strong performance, running second in the No. 33 for the majority of his first stint and trailing only teammate Farnbacher in the No. 93. 

 

 

 

Goossens, Farnbacher and Wittmer, drove the last three years for the championship winning Dodge Viper GTS-R GTLM program that was discontinued after the 2014 season. No. 93 was on the Viper that won the 2014 GTLM team championship and that carried Wittmer to two victories and the GTLM driver championship.

 

 

 

“Driving a Viper that has the championship winning 93 is an honor for us and together with the champ Kuno,” Farnbacher said. “Then on the other No. 33 car with Ben and Marc, it's like all my old teammates are there again. It will not be an easy task but we can achieve success again if we all pull on the same string and we seem to be doing that so far.”

 

 

 

 




Jeroen Bleekemolen Qualifies No. 33 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper GT3-R Second at Daytona

 
TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Just Misses Rolex 24 Pole; No. 93 Viper GT3-R and Kuno Wittmer Avoid Disaster in 180 mph Tri-Oval Spin 
 
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 22, 2015) – One TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper GT3-R narrowly missed winning the pole while the other narrowly avoided disaster after spinning at 180 mph through the Daytona International Speedway Tri-Oval Thursday in qualifying for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
 
 
Returning team driver Jeroen Bleekemolen, who co-drove to a pair of IMSA TUDOR Championship GT Daytona (GTD) race wins last year with Ben Keating, qualified the No. 33 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Viper. He posted the session’s fastest lap early in the run with a top time 1:47.424 (119.303 mph) only to be just edged for the pole with only seconds left on the clock by an Aston Martin.
 
“The car is really good,” Bleekemolen said. “It was a bit of a messy session with a red flag in there. You never know when someone is going to pull a surprise, which the Aston did, but we are right there. The pace is good, it was a clean lap. In the end, it’s not so important in a 24-hour race but we would still have loved to be on pole, but the car is really good. I don’t think I have ever had such a strong feeling before this race so we should be right there.”
 
The session-stopping red flag was waved when Bleekemolen’s teammate, Kuno Wittmer, spun in the Daytona Tri-Oval just after completing a lap in the sister No. 93 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Viper GT3-R. The Viper lost its right rear wheel and went into a backwards spin that blew the windshield out, but Wittmer masterfully avoided any contact and even got the Viper pointed in the right direction before coming to a stop in the Turn 1 runoff area. 
 
“We were on our third or fourth lap and the car just started to act up a little bit over the start/finish line,” Wittmer said. “I managed to finish that lap and then everything happened so quickly. You can’t even count to two seconds and all of a sudden you’re backwards at 180-plus mph. The wheel came off and we spun right away, that was an indication something was loose in the back, and as I crossed the line I thought I had a puncture or a broken suspension or something. Pretty scary moment but I am pretty happy I was in a car as strong as the TI Automotive/ViperExchange Viper.”
 
The TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Riley Motorsports team quickly went to work on the No. 93 and managed to have the repaired Viper on track with more than hour remaining in Thursday’s night practice session.
 
“We had a wheel come off, which is kind of a rare thing for us, we haven’t had one come off yet in this program,” said Bill Riley, Team Director and Chief Engineer. “One of the top mechanics is on this corner, he put it on, put it in four times, it was a good wheel, but sometimes a wheel doesn’t get quite seated. I think that’s what happened, it came unseated and it is just one of those things. It’s a shame, all of the guys are on it and they will get it fixed, but sometimes these things just happen.” 
 
 
Shaking off the incident, the No. 93 ended up third on the night practice time sheets with Dominik Farnbacher at the wheel for the quick lap. The solid rebound, and the No. 33's outside pole, put a positive end on a good opening-day for TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com at the Rolex 24.
 
The season-opening race 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.
 
Friday’s Rolex 24 At Daytona event schedule has a lone final practice session at 11:25 a.m. EST. This will be the last official on-track session before the start of the 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona at 2:10 p.m. EST this Saturday.
 
Additional Driver Quotes
 
Ben Keating – "This will be my fifth Rolex 24. If I could only do one race a year, this would be it! There is something electric about Daytona. I love the Ferris Wheel, the fireworks and the campfires. I think there is also something very special about doing a 24-hour race within the Tri-Oval. All the action is captured within a smaller area. If there is something exciting going on, most likely you can find a way to see it. It is a special place to race, but also a special race to experience as a spectator.”
 
Jeroen Bleekemolen – “I have done racing all over the world and rate the Rolex 24 as one of the best. This is one of the best races in the world and I’m not just saying that, I know! Our TI Automotive and Viper Exchange guests this weekend should try to get as close to the action as they can. Watch a pit stop, understand the strategy, so much work and effort goes into a 24 hour race like this and they should feel like part of the team because without them this wouldn’t be possible!”
 
Sebastiaan Bleekemolen – “It sounds a bit strange, but entering the track on race day is so nice. When you have arrived in the infield, there is no way back out, you are here and will be for more than 24 hours. You know that it will be a long day and night without much sleep, but you also know that the adrenaline will bring you to the finish.”
 
Al Carter – “I’ve learned a lot the last couple of years about this 24-hour race. Surprising is how aggressive you have to battle the entire race, and no matter what you and your team are faced with, it’s 100% maximum effort for 24 hours. It may be hard to believe that I’ve had some of my most aggressive battles with other competitors in the wee hours of the morning at Daytona. You're constantly battling with other teams to get laps and not give laps, it doesn’t matter what time the clock says.”
 
Marc Goossens – “Daytona is a little different as it’s, for most of us, the first endurance race of the year. On top of that, there are drivers from all around the world and all different series competing together. From GT racing in Europe and Asia and NASCAR, IndyCar, even V8 Supercars from Australia, they all want to be here. It all adds to the excitement and the best part of the race in my opinion is the build up to the start. All those drivers from different racing series and different nationalities that are being introduced when the cars line up on the false grid. A lot of events happening for our TI Automotive and Viper Exchange guests to watch.”
 
About TI Automotive: Fluid thinking™ shapes the mindset of TI Automotive. Global automotive manufacturers turn to TI Automotive to develop and produce industry-leading automotive fluid systems technology. Two-thirds of the world’s vehicles contain technology from TI Automotive. With 24,000 employees over 130 locations in 29 countries, our strength lies in our ability to creatively meet and exceed the increasing fuel economy and emissions regulations of tomorrow’s auto industry. For more information, visit www.tiautomotive.com, Twitter @TI_Racing #TIRacingDaytona and Facebook at TI Automotive Racing.


TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Confirms Dodge Viper GT3-R Driver Lineup for 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona

 
TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Riley Motorsports Team Makes Race Debut In Saturday’s Day-Long Classic; Live Coverage Begins on FOX at 2 p.m. EST
 
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.” 
 
 
Bleekemolen, his brother Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, and 2014 Rolex 24 GT Le Mans (GTLM) class pole-winner Marc Goossens have also been named to the No. 33 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper GT3-R for the Rolex 24.
 
“The Rolex 24 is one of the most historic 24 hour races in the world,” Jeroen Bleekemolen said. “I have won Le Mans, Nurburgring and the 24 Hours of Dubai but Daytona is still missing. I have finished second by nine seconds once so only a win will really satisfy me!”
 
Racing brothers from Holland, both Jeroen and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen have early career experience in Vipers in FIA GT competition in addition to last year’s Viper GT3-R debut at the Rolex 24.
 
“For me, it’s my second Daytona, both in the Viper” Sebastiaan Bleekemolen said. “The atmosphere is great, completely different than any other 24-hour race. I think it’s a special track with extremely high speeds, so you always need to focus a bit extra. And the competition is fantastic. Usually the top three are still in the lead lap after 24 hours of racing!”
 
After winning the GTLM Rolex 24 pole last year in a Viper, Goossens co-drove to a third-place class finish in the race with Dominik Farnbacher and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
 
“I'm very happy and excited to not only return in a Viper, but to return behind the wheel of a TI Automotive supported car,” Goossens said. “I had a chance to meet these guys and work with them last year at Indy, and to see the continuous support is awesome. Of course, this combined with the Viper Exchange program together with Riley Motorsports makes it a favorite team for GTD honors at the 24.”
 
The complete No. 93 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper GT3-R lineup includes Farnbacher, reigning IMSA TUDOR Championship GTLM Champion Kuno Wittmer and two-time reigning Trans Am TA2 Champion Cameron Lawrence.
 
 
“It's my 10th anniversary at this race,” Farnbacher said. “I won in my debut in 2005 in the GT class with Wolf Henzler, Shawn Price and Pierre Ehret racing with my father’s team. So, since then, I am waiting for my second win. Every year I have had a competitive car and was leading the race at some point but the luck has just been missing. This year I am sure it will work. We have the best team, drivers and support with TI Automotive and Viper Exchange. They are great supporters of our passion and our goals.”
 
Wittmer returns to Daytona as the reigning GTLM Champion after winning last year’s title in a Viper GTS-R.
 
“Any 24-hour race is very challenging,” Wittmer said. “As for Daytona, we are looking forward to this weekend with our TI Automotive and Viper Exchange sponsors, we really want a win. For sure, once the sun goes down we have seen in the past that you can have sun in your vision. It does become somewhat distracting. The night can bite also, but it is not as dark as Sebring or Atlanta. The biggest challenge in my opinion is staying on lead lap with zero scratches on the car.” 
 
Lawrence was a regular competitor in the IMSA Continental Tire Street Tuner (ST) class last year and clinched a second-consecutive Trans Am title in a Dodge Challenger on the Daytona road course last November. He will be making his first true endurance race start on Saturday but brings a champion’s experience to the TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com team.
 
“The longest races I have driven so far have been the Continental races, which are two-and-a-half hours,” Lawrence said. “So, this will be quite a bit different, really a bunch of those races put together, but I am really excited. We have a good group of guys, really good car and a good team. I am going to be anxious and nervous the first time I get in but I am not really anxious and nervous about how the race will go. I am confident in all of my prep work so far and that we have the equipment to win.”
 
The Rolex 24 At Daytona event schedule begins tomorrow, Thursday, January 22, with opening practice at 9:25 a.m. EST. Two more practice runs, including the only pre-race night session at 6:30 p.m. EST, will be held Thursday along with GTD qualifying at 4 p.m. EDT. A final practice on Friday at 11:25 a.m. EST will be the last official on-track session before the start of the 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona at 2:10 p.m. EST this Saturday.



TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper GT3-Rs On Pace in Daytona Testing

 
Successful On-Track Debut of Two-Car TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Riley Motorsports Team at The Roar Before the Rolex 24 Test
 
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 12, 2015) – The TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Riley Motorsports team had a successful on-track debut at Daytona International Speedway this weekend where the team’s pair of Dodge Viper GT3-Rs set the pace in the GT Daytona (GTD) class in the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test, January 9 – 11.
 
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 Friday and then let its team, Riley Motorsports, and drivers take over and make some news on the legendary 3.56-mile road course. 
 
 
Both the No. 33 and No. 93 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper GT3-Rs ranked at or near the top of the time sheets in each of the seven practice sessions run from Friday morning through early Sunday afternoon. That included an overall GTD-class Roar-best lap of 1:46.948 (119.834 mph) by experienced Viper driver Marc Goossens at the wheel of the No. 33 in Friday afternoon’s session. Goossens won the GTLM-class pole for last year’s Rolex 24 in a Viper GTS-R.
 
“I’ve always liked Daytona, but there are a lot of good drivers out there and a lot of people working hard right now to come back here in two weeks and get the pole,” Goossens said. “Hopefully we have something for them, but most importantly we need to be there at the end of the race and try to get that watch.”
 
Goossens is scheduled to race the No. 33 in the Rolex 24 in support of full-season co-drivers Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen. Keating was traveling out of the country this past weekend and, along with Bleekemolen who was competing in the 24 Hours of Dubai, didn’t participate in the Roar. The full-season duo put in a productive test at Daytona in November and is aiming for the GTD title this year after winning two races with ViperExchange.com in 2014. Keating kept a close eye from afar on his team’s progress this weekend. 
 
“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.”
 
About TI Automotive: Fluid thinking™ shapes the mindset of TI Automotive. Global automotive manufacturers turn to TI Automotive to develop and produce industry-leading automotive fluid systems technology. Two-thirds of the world’s vehicles contain technology from TI Automotive. With 24,000 employees over 130 locations in 29 countries, our strength lies in our ability to creatively meet and exceed the increasing fuel economy and emissions regulations of tomorrow’s auto industry. For more information, visit www.tiautomotive.com, Twitter @TI_Racing and Facebook at TI Automotive Racing.
 
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.




 

TI Automotive Partners with ViperExchange.com and Riley Technologies for 2015 IMSA TUDOR Championship
 
Primary TI Automotive Sponsorship for Two-Car NAEC Effort; Full-Season Associate Support for No. 33 Viper GT3-R of Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen 
 
Al Carter, Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, Trans Am Champ Cameron Lawrence and Former SRT Drivers Dominik Farnbacher, Marc Goossens and GTLM Champ Kuno Wittmer for Rolex 24 and NAEC
 
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 9, 2015) – TI Automotive, a leading global supplier of automotive fluid systems technology, and ViperExchange.com announced today a partnership for the 2015 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship that will feature a two-car Dodge Viper GT3-R effort in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (NAEC) and a season-long campaign by Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 33 Dodge Viper GT3-R for the GT Daytona (GTD) class championship. 
 
 
TI Automotive will serve as the primary sponsor on the No. 33 and a debuting No. 93 Dodge Viper GT3-R GTD entry in the four long-distance NAEC races at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen, and Road Atlanta. For the remaining six GTD rounds of the TUDOR Championship, TI Automotive will remain as an associate sponsor on the No. 33 ViperExchange.com that will see Keating and Bleekemolen pair up as co-drivers for a second-consecutive season. Both Vipers will be entered and maintained by championship-winning team and constructor Riley Technologies.
 
“This is a great opportunity for TI Automotive to bring its award-winning street technology to the track and to partner on a team with the award-winning combination of drivers, race-car design and development crew of Riley Technologies and Viper Exchange,” said Al Deane, chief technology officer, TI Automotive. “We had a one-time chance to work with this team in July of 2014 at the TUDOR race in Indy, and we met some very talented people that are experts at tuning performance and efficiency from the street to the track. This sponsorship and endurance series gives our company and motorsport enthusiasts an iconic American sports car brand at all iconic American race tracks.”
 
The two-car effort also brings back to Viper former race and championship winning SRT Motorsports driver Dominik Farnbacher, Marc Goossens and Kuno Wittmer for the NAEC rounds. Additional drivers joining the team for the four-race endurance championship include race-winning sports-car driver Al Carter, two-time reigning Trans Am TA2 Champion Cameron Lawrence and returning team driver Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, older brother of Jeroen Bleekemolen.
 
“2014 was the first season for chassis number one of a brand new car with the Viper GT3-R,” Keating said. “I think we have one of the best teams in the paddock, which always has a lot to do with consistent performance. We have learned a lot that we hope to put to good use in 2015, but the big news for us is our relationship with TI Automotive this year. What really makes this partnership unique is that it is not just about marketing but also a really valuable technical partnership. TI Automotive is the best in the business for fluid systems.”  
 
TI Automotive currently provides the high-performance fuel delivery system for all of the production versions of the Dodge Viper. The Dodge Viper fuel delivery system features the TI Automotive dual-channel impeller pump with single-stage electric motor (DCSS) that was recognized for innovation with an Automotive News PACE award.
 
At the SEMA high-performance aftermarket show held in November, TI Automotive announced a technical collaboration with Riley Technologies and Viper Exchange to provide optimized fluid systems for the Dodge Viper GT3-R race cars. TI Automotive has been supporting several test sessions to further tune operating performance and efficiency on both cars for the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.
 
 
Both the No. 33 and No. 93 Viper GT3-Rs feature an all-new look for 2015, with a white body, featuring a bold blue stripe outlined in bright green, from nose to tail. The TI Automotive icon and Fluid thinking™ taglines sit atop the roof and prominently on the side profiles.
 
Keating is traveling out of the country this weekend and, along with Jeroen Bleekemolen who is competing in the 24 Hours of Dubai, will not participate in the Roar Before the Rolex 24. The duo was, however, part of a productive two-car test at Daytona International Speedway in November.
 
Roar driver assignments have Carter, Goossens and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen in the No. 33. Carter is also listed on the No. 93 that he will share with Lawrence, Farnbacher, Goossens and Wittmer. Final driver lineups for the Rolex 24 will be determined after this weekend’s three-day test.
 
Additional Quotes
 
Jeroen Bleekemolen - “In our first season we could show our strength and won two races. A great effort by the whole team with a new car. Everyone has worked really hard to improve so I feel we are well prepared for our second season. I'm very optimistic. The goal has to be the championship. We don't underestimate the competition, as I know how tough it will be, but at the same time I know our team has worked really hard and is ready to go out and win. With the things we learned in our first year we should be strong. I'm really happy to be back for another year.”
 
Sebastiaan Bleekemolen - “I did three races last year in the GT3-R. I raced in the first two at Daytona and Sebring and the last race of the season. When I drove the car at Petit, it felt much more comfortable than in the beginning. The team and drivers worked hard during last season to improve the car and I think they succeeded. I’m really optimistic about Daytona, although the competition will be strong, maybe stronger than last year. I think all the teams learned a lot last year, but I’m sure we can have a good result at Daytona if we keep the car clean. We have an experienced driver lineup with the same goal: take the win and work together to establish that!”
 
Al Carter - “The Riley Motorsports name and team is legendary in the sport but I couldn't help but be drawn to the fact, that even after all of their past success, they continue to work hard to improve like 2015 is their most important season ever. I was lucky enough to have Ben toss me the keys and take out his Viper for a couple laps at their November test. I was very impressed with how immediately comfortable I was in the car. Even when trying to be respectful of being in a testing situation, I couldn't help myself and be on race pace on my second lap.”
 
Marc Goossens - “First of all, I would like to thank Ben Keating and the people at TI Automotive for putting this program together and keeping the Viper name on the track. It's good to see the majority of the crew back as well. It's great to be back here with the Riley Motorsports guys. Personally, I'm really excited to be sporting the TI Automotive colors again. We started our relationship at Indy last year where we were a little unfortunate with the TI Automotive-branded 91 car, but at the same time they had a little bit of that winning taste as our sister car won at the Brickyard. I look forward to giving them some trophies.”
 
Cameron Lawrence – “I am just really excited to have the chance to drive with such a good group with Ben Keating, Bill Riley and everybody on the team. After having such a good season last year, and now getting in the Viper, it is just a real cool opportunity to get to drive and do my first Rolex 24 with them and a few other races. It’s definitely exciting for me. The Viper is amazing and really easy to drive. The brakes are probably the high point on the car but the handling in general is really good and you can tell that they worked a lot last season on the balance and all of the development. We did a whole fuel stint for about an hour in my first test and it barely felt like 30 minutes. Over the course of a whole race it should be a really good car.”
 
Kuno Wittmer - “It certainly feels right that our team is reunited. Since 2012, we have had the chance to work together on winning a championship and through some heavy and time consuming on and off track development, we did just that.  Now, to take on a different program, with our key players still in place, it simply makes sense. The combination of Viper Exchange with TI Automotive and Riley Motorsports sets a world-class standard. The Viper fans have always been, in my mind, the most loyal car-type fans. To give them a victory and a great show at Daytona for 24 hours, I believe they will be impressed and very happy by Sunday night. The TI Automotive crew are extremely nice people. Their product and company structure is an example a model that many should look up to. Nothing makes me more proud than to be able to run alongside true professionals at TI Automotive. They just get it.”
 
About TI Automotive: Fluid thinking™ shapes the mindset of TI Automotive. Global automotive manufacturers turn to TI Automotive to develop and produce industry-leading automotive fluid systems technology. Two-thirds of the world’s vehicles contain technology from TI Automotive. With 24,000 employees over 130 locations in 29 countries, our strength lies in our ability to creatively meet and exceed the increasing fuel economy and emissions regulations of tomorrow’s auto industry. For more information, visit www.tiautomotive.com, Twitter @TI_Racing and Facebook at TI Automotive Racing.
 
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.
 



Right after winning the 2014 United SportsCar Championship GT title, Dodge announced the end of the factory Viper racing program and while those championship teams are still out of commission, there will be at least one Dodge Viper race car participating in the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.The Dodge Viper GTS-R teams had a great season in 2014, with a streak of podium wins putting the #93 team taking home the championship in the GT class. Unbelievably, the celebration by Mopar racing fans was cut short as the Chrysler Group quickly announced that they would be discontinuing the factory backed endurance racing program. Just a few days after the Dodge Viper race program had reached the pinnacle – the program was dead. This came as a hard hit to Mopar and Dodge racing fans who have been forced to endure the passing of the NASCAR program and the off-road truck racing program – both of which were also killed off immediately following championship seasons. The Viper program had so much promise, but when the Chrysler Group saw an opportunity to lower the price of the consumer-grade Viper simply by discontinuing a racing program, they said goodbye to the endurance racing program in a big hurry. Fortunately, the privately owned race team of Ben Keating's Viper Exchange will give Dodge racing fans someone to cheer for in the world of endurance racing. Rumors of a Privateer GT Viper are Dead Over the past few months, there were rumors that privateer race teams (non-factory backed) would buy up the Dodge Viper race cars from the championship campaign and go racing in the 2015 IMSA Tudor series, but a report from Motorsport.com says that it isn’t going to happen. The championship winning cars are still technically owned by the Chrysler Group and they are still sitting at the North Carolina shop of Riley Technologies, who builds all of the modern Viper endurance racers.

 

Photo: ViperExchange

Photo: ViperExchange

While the factory GTLM program may have come to an end, the Dodge Viper will still be represented in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship next year, albeit as a privateer effort in the GT Daytona class.  

At least one, but probably two, Dodge Viper GT3-R is expected for the entire season, with Riley Motorsports coming off a productive test this week at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for January’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona. 

A total of three Viper GT3-Rs turned laps on the Florida high banks, including two ViperExchange.com-backed entries in GTD spec and a FIA GT3 Viper running in Pirelli World Challenge trim.

“To get back running again is always good,” Bill Riley told Sportscar365. “We had the car that was from Sebring back together again [after the fire]. As far as that goes mechanically, it was a good test. “We ran a lot of miles. The weather didn’t cooperate as much as it should have but all in all it was a pretty good test.”

Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen, who are expected to return to the No. 33 Viper next year, were joined at the test by ex-factory drivers Marc Goossens and Kuno Wittmer, as well many of the mechanics and engineers from the now-defunct factory GTLM effort.

Riley said it remains to be seen whether a potential second car could be added into the mix, either for the entire season or Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds only. “Obviously we haven’t made our full announcement yet but we’re working hard on getting everything sorted out for next year,” he said.

 “On the drivers’ side, obviously the factory guys we had last year would be my first calls [to fill additional seats]. We’re pretty excited about moving forward with the GTD cars.”

Out of the four full-season factory drivers, only Jonathan Bomarito has announced plans for next year, having rejoined SpeedSource’s Mazda operation.

 Riley expects a formal announcement on the team’s 2015 program to be made around mid-December.

 

Viper Exchange Retires From Petit Le Mans Just Past Halfway 

  
Competitive Showing All For Naught After Second Contact Incident of the Race Sidelines Ben Keating and the Bleekemolen Brothers 

 

ATLANTA (Oct. 4, 2014) – A competitive and race-leading performance by the Viper Exchange Team ended just past the halfway mark in Saturday’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta after the second of two contact incidents in just over  an hour left the No. 33 Viper GT3-R too damaged to continue. 

 
Starting driver Jeroen Bleekemolen rolled off from fourth on the GT Daytona (GTD) class grid and immediately challenged for the lead. He raced to as high as second before turning the No. 33 over to Ben Keating at the race’s one-hour mark.  
 
Keating continued to battle at the front and moved the No. 33 into the lead early in the race’s second hour in what was one of his best driving stints of the 2014 season.   

“We started out with a pretty good car, we were able to run up front,” Keating said. “Jeroen did great and handed a great car to me. I was really enjoying my first stint but then I came in because our car was really bad on tires.”

The stop dropped Keating deeper into the top-10 GTD running order and he encountered the first of two on-track contact incidents two hours and two more pit stops later.  He was racing through Road Atlanta’s Turn 10 section when he came into contact with a Prototype in the opening minutes of hour four. 

I’m not sure what happened in the Turn 10 area,” Keating said. “I feel bad for Jon Fogarty in the Action Express Prototype because I think he got penalized for running into the back of me but it was not his fault. I had shifting problems in Turn 10B and he was expecting me to go, go, go and I was in between gears, so I didn’t have the power behind it. It was unlucky for both of us and ultimately caused the end of both of our days.”
While the Action Express entry retired, Keating continued after repairs in a less-than-ideal Viper.

 

“I went back out without a diffuser and it was really scary,” Keating said. “The diffuser gives a lot of downforce so it was pretty unsafe. The longer I drove the worse I got. I gave Jan Heylen the inside of Turn 7 on a lap, hit the throttle on the rumble strip of the exit and got a little loose. Then Jan squeezed me out, we hit and I didn’t have any way to recover. You normally would turn the wheel to recover from being loose but since he squeezed me out with no track left, I didn’t have any room to recover. We’re not in the championship hunt so we didn’t feel it was super important to go run some more laps. Unfortunately, our day ended early and we just let the guys put it away” 

 
The early exit ended a race that began full of promise and with a legitimate shot at ViperExchange.com taking a third 2014 victory to go along with wins at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and one race ago at Circuit of The Americas. 

 
“I think we had a shot at it, many had a shot,” Jeroen Bleekemolen said. “At the start the car felt pretty good. We were running as planned, everything was going great. It’s unfortunate to have our day ended before I got another stint in the car to fight for the last couple of hours for the win.”

The retirement also prevented ViperExchange.com’s third driver, Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, from getting a chance to race the No. 33 for the second-consecutive race.  Both he and his younger brother, Jeroen, didn’t get to race at Sebring this past March when a fire early in the race sidelined the No. 33, the last time the elder Bleekemolen competed with ViperExchange.com.

“For me, today didn't even start,” Sebastiaan Bleekemolen said. “I didn’t drive the car yet. It’s a shame because I think we had a shot at it. Ben did a really great job. We had an issue in Ben’s second stint, and I think we could have come back from it, but the second hit was hard. I raced at Sebring when they caught fire and at Daytona when we had technical issues because it was the first race with this car. So I really want to come back with these guys and win one of the long races.” 
 
The 2014 season in total was largely positive from Jeroen Bleekemolen’s point of view. “We’ve been doing really well,” Jeroen Bleekemolen said. “A lot of people don’t remember that a year ago the car wasn't even ready yet. We were still waiting to take it on the track for the first time. We won 20% of the races this year so we didn't do that bad, but we hope to win a championship. We had a great car this year, I hope we have an even better car next year so we can race for the championship.”

Keating acknowledged a character-building season. “We had some really high points and some really low points this season,” Keating said. “We won a couple races, which was our strong point, but then we had a couple races with some major problems. We had the fire in Sebring but this is really our first big hit of the year. What we need is consistency, we want to win a championship, it would have been nice to win Petit but I guess it just wasn't in the cards for today.”

 

 


 

ViperExchange.com Takes Strong Victory in Texas Home Race
 
Second-Straight Circuit of The Americas Win for Ben Keating and Second of Season with Jeroen Bleekemolen
 
AUSTIN, Texas (September 21, 2014- Competing in their home event at the famed Circuit of The Americas in Austin (COTA), Texas, ViperExchange.com drivers Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen drove the No. 33 SRT Viper GT3-R to an impressive victory in the Lone Star Le Mans, the penultimate round of the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship on Saturday.

“It was a really great team effort all day,” said Keating, principal of the Texas-based ViperExchange.com. “We kept the car clean, improved the car, Jeroen drove a great race, and it just really couldn’t have been any sweeter.”
 
Knowing that patience would be a critical element in the race, Keating put in an incredibly calculated race-opening driving stint, doing his best to maintain a pace at the front but understanding that keeping the car in one piece was of primary importance. Keating raced in the top five for much of his run, pulling in to the pits during a timely yellow at the one-hour mark.
 
“In qualifying we had a very significant understeer, and we overcorrected for the race and developed a pretty significant oversteer,” Keating said. “This track is not one where you want an oversteer. I was able to hold the other guys behind me until traffic started coming around. The traffic opened the door for them to get by. My stint in the car was a challenge. I started in second and brought the car home in seventh.”
 
Keating handed off to Bleekemolen and the job was clear for the experienced veteran. Knowing that the team didn’t have the fastest car but one capable of winning, the Dutchman went to immediate work, passing multiple cars during his opening stint and climbing up to fourth by time the race had one hour remaining. 
 
Pitting for the final time, an impressive job by the No. 33 ViperExchange.comcrew would elevate Bleekemolen to second, with the car steadily gaining on the leading BMW as the laps continued. With 30 minutes remaining, the slowing BMW was simply no match for the Viper, and Bleekemolen would cruise to the lead and never look back.
 
“Today was great, it was very exciting,” Bleekemolen said. “When I got in the car we were very close with many cars, five or six were fighting for second, and at that point I didn’t think we had a chance at winning. I just kept it clean, tried not to make mistakes and suddenly we were leading. Some people dropped out because of issues, some lost the pace and some had different pit stop strategies, which allowed me to overtake two or three cars which got us the lead.”
 
The victory was the second in a row for Keating at COTA and second of the 2014 season after winning in July with Bleekemolen at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Canada. In last year’s IMSA race at the Austin track, Keating co-drove to victory in a Porsche in the GTC class. Each Texas race was won in front of a large group of Texas-based family and friends, including Saturday’s crowd of over 100 supporters.

Just two weeks away, the season-ending Petit Le Mans can be seen live in its entirety on IMSA.com and in same-day coverage on FOX Sports 2 beginning at 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Oct. 4. Race highlights will air on FOX on Sunday, Oct. 5and viewers can check local listings in their areas for air times.
 
 
 


ViperExchange.com Starts from Front Row Saturday at Circuit of The Americas
 
Ben Keating Rolls off from outside Pole in No. 33 ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper GT3-R after Jeroen Bleekemolen’s Strong Qualifying Run
 
AUSTIN, Texas (Sept. 19, 2014) – The No. 33 ViperExchange.com Viper GT3-R of Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen will start tomorrow’s Lone Star Le Mans from the outside front-row after a strong, second-place qualifying run at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) on Friday.
 
The COTA event is a Saturday doubleheader with the World Endurance Championship (WEC) with the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race scheduled to start at 11:35 a.m. CDT. Live coverage on FOX Sports 2 begins at 12:30 p.m. EDT/9:30 a.m. PDT with a two-hour rebroadcast of the race on FOX this Sunday, September 21, at various time slots throughout the country. Viewers can check local listings for air times.
 
Bleekemolen challenged for and at times held the pole throughout the timed 15-minute qualifying session and ultimately finished with a top lap of 2:08.814 (95.021 mph).  
 
Keating is scheduled to start the race, the only event on the IMSA TUDOR Championship schedule in his home state of Texas.  
 
“This is very exciting,” said Keating, who won in IMSA ALMS GTC competition at COTA last year. “I’m really happy to be on the front row because it’s easier to stay up front than to drive up front. I’ve got over 100 guests here – family, employees, friends and Viper clubs. I’m kind of on cloud nine at the moment. My motto for tomorrow is don’t screw it up”
 
The solid qualifying effort was the result of some hard work by the ViperExchange.com team after a shaky start to the weekend on Thursday.
 
“We had struggled with our setup this whole weekend,” Keating said. “The track is really missing the grip this weekend. We came with what we thought was a car set up exactly right but we struggled. We didn’t think we had a second place in us, but we kept chipping away at it. Jeroen is really great at setup.”
 
Bleekemolen cracked the top 10 in Friday morning practice, the team found even more pace in the afternoon practice run and battled for the pole from the drop of the green flag in qualifying.
 
“We were struggling a bit in practice,” Bleekemolen said. “We worked our way up and finally caught up during the last session. I’m really happy because we got the maximum amount out of the car that we could. We should have a good chance tomorrow. We may make some small adjustments in the morning because it’s long distance but overall we should be good.”
 
Race-day Saturday begins with a 20-minute warm-up session at 8:40 a.m. CDT before the featured Lone Star Le Mans later that morning at 11:35 a.m. CDT.
 
“It’ll be tight for sure tomorrow,” Bleekemolen said. “I think there are five or six cars that could win, maybe even more. It should be a really good fight, especially since we’re one of the cars that can fight.”

 


 


Viper Exchange
Shifts Focus to Texas after Challenging Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway

  Home-State Race at Circuit of The Americas Right on Time After Unlucky 13th-Place Finish at VIR

  DANVILLE, Va. (August 26, 2014) – Ben Keating and the No. 33 ViperExchange.com Viper GT3-R team have quickly shifted their focus to next month’s home-state Texas race at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) after a frustrating Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway on Sunday.

 
Keating and stand-in co-driver, Tony Ave, overcame issues in both qualifying and the race and the No. 33 crossed the finish line in 13th place when the checkered flag flew in the 2-3/4 hour sprint.  
 
“We made a setup change that was going in the wrong direction for qualifying,” Keating said. “We felt like we missed qualifying by about half a second, which in this class is about 10 starting spots. We started much farther back than we wanted to but I had a good drive. There were a bunch of good guys right in front of me and I had trouble getting by them early, but worked throughout my stint to go from 15th up to fourth place.” 
 
Keating out-paced the majority of the other silver-ranked drivers by the end of his opening driving shift. The race finally seemed to be falling ViperExchange.com’s way, but Keating soon encountered the trouble that also struck so many others in the competitive but caution-filled race.
 
“I was on the back straight, sixth gear, top speed,” Keating said. “We were talking about how low we were on fuel and whether or not we are going to make it. I went into reserve and got so into the fuel conversation I missed my braking point. I wasn’t able to slow it down and keep it on track. When I did get it slowed down, I was in the grass and it is downhill and I was nosed into the tires.” 
 
The incident appeared more severe than it was but valuable time was lost before Keating and the Viper could be pulled from the tire barrier.
 
“Because I was downhill and on grass, I had the car in reverse and the wheels were just spinning because I couldn’t get any grip,” Keating said. “I was stuck there until the safety crew came and pulled me out. This made us two laps down and the rest is history. Tony drove a great race, everything was good and it was me who screwed it up.”
 
Ave was filling in for Keating’s regular ViperExchange.com co-driver, Jeroen Bleekemolen, who was racing in Slovakia this past weekend in the Blancpain Sprint Series. Ave ran competitive lap times, frequently on the lead pace, in his race-closing stint but could never make any significant position improvements two laps down.
 
“I think the race today went really well,” Ave said. “The car was set up really well for the race. We learned a lot, we tried a lot of setup throughout the weekend, which I think will put the guys in really great shape for COTA and Road Atlanta.”
 
Both Keating and ViperExchange.com – the world’s largest Viper retailer – are based in Texas in the greater Houston community of Tomball, Texas. The COTA track in Austin is as close to home as any track on the tour. Even better, Keating knows how it feels to win there.
 
“I’m hoping for home track advantage at COTA,” Keating said. “I won there last year in the American Le Mans Series GTC class and I’m excited about going back there. It’s a place I feel I know pretty well and I am looking forward to racing there again.”
 
Having a driver of Bleekemolen’s world-class talent back for a race circuit that was built first and foremost for Formula 1 will also be a huge plus.
 
“I feel really good going into the next race,” Keating said. “Jeroen will be back and I know the track well. It’s the only thing in and near Texas, I have a lot of guests coming in, and I’m just really excited for the event.”
 
The upcoming COTA event is a Saturday doubleheader with the World Endurance Championship (WEC) on Saturday, September 20. The IMSA TUDOR Championship race is scheduled to start at 11:35 a.m. CDT and can be seen in same-day coverage on FOX Sports 1 at 4 p.m. EDT/1 p.m. PDT. 

 

 


 

Ben Keating to Co-Drive with Tony Ave in ViperExchange.com Viper GT3-R at The Oak Tree Grand Prix

 
Team Regular Jeroen Bleekemolen’s Commitment in Europe Opens Door for Experienced Virginia International Raceway Driver
 
DANVILLE, Va. (August 19, 2014) – Ben Keating and the No. 33 ViperExchange.com Viper GT3-R team will be joined by co-driver Tony Ave for this weekend’s Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway (VIR), August 22 – 24.
 
The weekend’s featured Oak Tree Grand Prix can be seen in live coverage on FOX Sports 1, this Sunday, August 24, at 4 p.m. EDT/1 p.m. PDT.
 
Ave will be filling in for Keating’s regular ViperExchange.com co-driver, Jeroen Bleekemolen, who will be racing in Slovakia this weekend in the Blancpain Sprint Series. The Dutchman currently is second in points in the competitive European championship.
 
The Keating/Ave pairing brings together an accomplished duo at VIR. Both drivers have won the title of Grassroots Motorsports Magazine Ultimate Track Car Challenge Champion in Riley-built race cars. Keating captured the honor just two months ago in the 2014 edition of the winner-take-all event behind wheel of the same No. 33 Viper GT3-R he drives this weekend. Ave took top honors in 2011 in a Riley Mk XXII track day car.
 
“Tony is a stud,” Keating said. “Multiple Trans Am Champion, fellow Ultimate Track Car Challenge winner. He has many laps at VIR as well.  We should be a great team.”
 
Keating also returns to VIR as a defending IMSA race winner, having scored the 2013 victory in the former IMSA ALMS GTC class in last year’s Oak Tree Grand Prix.  He has also had success at VIR in Viper Cup competition to go along with his multiple championships in that series.
 
“I love VIR,” Keating said. “I have raced there 12 times and I have won nine of those races. Last year in GTC, I was able to gap the field a little in my stint and I am hoping for the same in 2014. Except for the long straight, the Viper should be good. We are very good up the esses and in Turn 17 coming on to the front straight, but I expect the Porsches, Audis, and Ferraris to be good here also.”
 
Ave is stepping into a Viper that arrives at one of his favorite tracks after three-straight top-four finishes. The streak began with ViperExchange.com team's first victory at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and also includes third place at Indianapolis and fourth one race ago at Road America. 
 
“The VIR track is one of my favorites,” Ave said. “Fortunately, I live within a couple hours of there so we test our Trans Am cars there a fair amount, it’s very challenging and has some high speed esses that I really enjoy. It’s an excellent place to make my debut in GTD.”
 
ViperExchange.com will take to a VIR facility that has received numerous upgrades since last year. Part of the improvements are a paved paddock and newly resurfaced race course.
 
“The new pavement on the track is a game changer,” Keating said. “It should be really good on tire wear, and some of those cars that are hard on tires should be able to stay more competitive longer. The new pavement makes the track much racier, easier to pass, safer at the limit. I really love what they have done. All good stuff.”
 
Ave will be making his first IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) start with ViperExchange.com but he is a regular test driver for the SRT Motorsports Viper program, which is run by Riley Technologies.
 
“I have driven for Bill and Bob Riley since 1992,” Ave said. “I drove their newly-designed Oldsmobile Pro Series car to its first victories, which led to future championships. I have tested or raced pretty much everything they have built since then, from Trans Am to LMP cars, Daytona Prototypes to Indy cars, Silver Crown to Stock Cars, and now the Vipers. I have done shake down tests and some research and development testing with the GT Vipers, just enough to say that I want to drive them a lot more!”
 
Noteworthy
 
-Within IMSA TUDOR Championship regulations, the No. 33 will be a little toned down this weekend from the wide-open rules of the Ultimate Track Car Challenge. “The GT3-R will be very different than at the Ultimate Track Car Challenge,” Keating said. “For starters, about 200 horsepower less. I don't know that there will be a big comparison, but at least we know this car is capable of doing some unbelievable laps at this track. I am excited to be going back.”
 
-Ave’s relationship with the Riley organization extends beyond testing and racing their cars. “I purchased their Trans Am design and business from them a few years ago and continue building those cars today,” Ave said. “I pretty much only drive cars I own anymore, but any time I get a call from the Rileys I am always ready. I can't wait for this weekend!”

 


 

ViperExchange.com, Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen Finish Fourth at Road America in Viper GT3-R

 
ViperExchange.com Survives Caution-Plagued Race for Top-Five Finish in No. 33 Viper GT3-R
 
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 11, 2014) – Steering clear and staying ahead of the on-track trouble that sidelined more than one competitor, Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen finished fourth in Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America in the No. 33 ViperExchange.com Viper GT3-R.
 
The finish was the third-straight top-four result for Keating, Bleekemolen and ViperExchange.com, a streak that started with the team’s first win last month at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and a third one race ago in the Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
 
Sunday’s Road America race started with another solid opening stint by Keating who raced in second place the entire time.
 
“We had a good day,” Keating said. “I had a good stint. We qualified third but due to an accident in morning warm-up we started in second. I was happy to sit there in second throughout my stint. It was a good place to be to hand it over to Jeroen.”
 
Bleekemolen took the wheel just past the race’s one-hour mark but the refueling speed allowed for the Viper GT3-R per IMSA rules extended the stop.
 
“We were just unlucky in the pit stops,” Bleekemolen said. “By the rules, we are a bit slow in the pit stops with the refueling so that dropped us back twice. Then you have to fight back, which was going pretty well, so in the end I guess it was the maximum we can do if you always go down after pit stops.”
 
Bleekemolen raced back to second after the first stop only to fall all the way back to ninth when he pitted for the second and final time 55 minutes from the race finish.
 
“Both of our pit stops were slow in comparison to the other teams,” Keating said. “We got leap frogged in pit lane both times. A couple of the Porsches and the Ferraris had ultra-quick pit stops and gained a couple of positions but Jeroen did a great job.”
 
Bleekemolen’s attempt to race through the field in the final stages of the race was thwarted by a pair of full-course caution periods that slowed the field for more than half of the final 45 minutes. The cautions were the final of six on the day that saw the field parade under caution for more than 90 minutes of the timed 2-3/4 hour race.
 
“This track is a great track but there is a lot of high-risk kind of corners that will bait you into going deep and making a pass that is a low-percentage pass,” Keating said. “So we saw a lot of yellows, we still had a great race, but it was really difficult. It seemed like half the race was under caution, it was honestly just a series of sprint races. It was nice for Jeroen to be bunched up like that, he’s really good in traffic and was able to make a few passes and get us up in the order. We finished fourth, so we’re happy, P4 is definitely not too shabby.” 
 
The entire ViperExchange.com team has been pleased with the recent run of positive but hard-earned results
 
“We have proven that with a first, a third and a fourth we are consistent in the top five now,” Bleekemolen said. “The car is right up there, the team is right up there, but it is so competitive that if anything goes against you just a little bit you are not there anymore."
 
Next up for ViperExchange.com and the IMSA TUDOR Championship is the Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway, August 22 – 24. The weekend’s featured race can be seen in live coverage on FOX Sports 1, Sunday, August 24, at 4 p.m. EDT/1 p.m. PDT.
 
Noteworthy
 
-After a challenging start to the season that included a devastating fire in the opening hour of the 12 Hours of Sebring, ViperExchange.com is hitting its competitive stride this summer.  The recent performance bodes well for the future. “The last two months have been good for us,” Keating said. “We’re ready to bring on 2015. The year started so bad for us with the fire, so sadly we’re not really in the championship hunt. We’re trying to do everything we can to get better and better for 2015. We’re really trying to work on pit stops. If you multiply one or two seconds by 24 hours it’s a lot of time. We’re preparing for next year.”

 

ViperExchange.com to Produce LIVE Webcast from Paddock at Road America

 

 

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 6, 2014) - Continuing their efforts to bring the loyal Viper audience behind the scenes of the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, ViperExchange.com is launching a new initiative this Saturday, August 9, with the premiere of “Behind the Coil: LIVE!”

 

 

 

The next step in the company’s “Behind the Coil” content series, the team will be hosting a live, paddock-side webcast on Saturday night in advance of Sunday’s IMSA TUDOR Championship Continental Tire Road Race Showcase. For any fans of either the Dodge Viper SRT or simply the IMSA TUDOR Championship, this is the perfect opportunity to go directly inside the team’s paddock, interact with ViperExchange.com drivers Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen, as well as ask any questions of both drivers and the crew. 

 

 

 

The webcast will begin on Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. CDT in Wisconsin), and continue on for one hour. Fans can see this by visiting either www.ViperExchange.com, or by downloading the Ustream app for your smartphone or tablet and searching for “ViperExchange.” 

 

 

 

For Ben Keating, driver of the GT Daytona (GTD) class No. 33 ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R, the opportunity to explain the complexities of his machine to a loyal audience is a welcome one.

 

 

 

“We’re very excited to bring this to opportunity to our loyal fans and Viper owners,” Keating said. “It’s our first go at this so I’m sure there will be some things to learn, but we’re very excited to give our fans a chance to look up close at the car, and of course answer any questions. It should be a fun time for all.”

 

 

 

Fans will not only have their questions answered live visiting the stream, but the ViperExchange.com team will also be giving away numerous hats, shirts, and other giveaway items throughout the webcast.

 

 

 

Keating, Bleekemolen and ViperExchange.com come to Road America following their best two-race run in the inaugural IMSA TUDOR Championship season.  The No. 33 team won its first race in early July at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and followed it up with a third-place finish in the Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway a little over a week ago.

 


 

 

 

Repeat Podium for ViperExchange.com, Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen in Viper GT3-R Indy Debut

 

ViperExchange.com Backs Up Breakout Victory with Third-Place in Brickyard Grand Prix in No. 33 Viper GT3-R

 

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (July 28, 2014) – The No. 33 ViperExchange.com Viper GT3-R of drivers Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen scored its second-straight IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship podium result Friday in the Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a third-place GT Daytona (GTD) finish.

 

The podium showing at Indy followed ViperExchange.com’s breakout victory one race earlier at “Mosport” Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Both finishes are season-best results for the first-year Viper GT3-R IMSA TUDOR Championship effort and have combined to turn the tide on a tough run of bad luck in the first half of the season.

 

Like the Mosport victory, where Bleekemolen made the winning pass less than two laps from the finish, Indy featured another late-race pass with two laps remaining by the fast Dutchman.

 

“Jeroen drove an incredible race,” Keating said. “There is no one I would rather have as a teammate. To hand him the car in 10th and finish on the podium again is phenomenal. I’m really happy.”

 

The fact that the ViperExchange.com team had to fight from far back in the field at all was the result of a costly bump-and-run incident Keating sustained during his race-opening shift. He was running in fifth and in the GTD lead pack when another class competitor spun him out.

 

“The 58 Porsche was right behind me,” Keating said. “Three separate times he bumped me and let me know he was there. In Turn 12 again he hit me pretty hard and spun me. It took me a while to get turned back around. That was after a caution, and since everyone was bunched up, I wound up in 10th, which really upset me. Race control decided not to give the 58 a penalty which upset me even more.

 

Undeterred by the set-back, Keating turned the car over to Bleekemolen about 60 minutes into the 2-3/4-hour race and the climb through the field began. Driving a double stint to the finish, Bleekemolen cracked the top five with 15 minutes remaining and took fourth a lap later. The pass for the podium came on the final lap of the race on the No. 555 Ferrari.

 

“I’m pretty happy,” Bleekemolen said. “Ben got spun around, which threw us to the back, but we had great strategy and some good fights to get back to the front. I’m really happy we could take the podium in the last minute of the race. It is great to have come out on top.”

 

Keating staged a charge of his own after recovering from the spin despite dealing with traffic and some traction challenges.

 

“I was running decent times,” Keating said. “I had one lap where I was full of red mist that I did one really fast pass. Our car had less overall grip than practice, so I had trouble being consistent, but I think our car was really good on tires. At the end, some cars where locking up and going wide while we were still able to run fast laps.”

 

Next up for ViperExchange.com and the IMSA TUDOR Championship is the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 8 – 10. The weekend’s featured race can be seen in same-day coverage on FOX Sports 1, Sunday, August 10, at 6:30 p.m. EDT/3:30 p.m. PDT.

 

“The car was great at Indy,” Bleekemolen said. “We had the pace to fight them. We didn’t have much more, but it was just enough to take the podium today. The next track is not our best track but the team has proved that they can do something good, so I’m really confident going into Road America.” 


Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen Bring Race-Winning Momentum to Indy

 
First Brickyard Grand Prix Start for Viper Exchange Viper GT3-R
 
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (July 23, 2014) – Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen bring the momentum of the first IMSA United SportsCar Championship victory for Viper Exchange and the Viper GT3-R one race ago at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) this weekend for Friday’s Brickyard Grand Prix.
 
Round 9 of the 2014 IMSA TUDOR Championship, the featured 2-3/4 hour race can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 at 5:30 p.m. EDT/2:30 p.m. PDT this Friday, July 25.
 
Shaking off an up-and-down start to the 2014 season, Keating, Bleekemolen and the Riley Technologies-run Viper GT3-R team won its first race from the pole at the Canadian Tire “Mosport” road course two weekends ago. The victory erased any lasting memories of a devastating fire in the second race of the year at Sebring in March and served as an indicator that the Viper Exchange team may have finally made up for the ground lost in the aftermath of that blaze. 
 
“We had a really good car going into Sebring before it all burned up,” Keating said. “After Sebring, we were pretty well starting over again from a setup standpoint. So in all the practice and stuff, we were close but really not exactly there. Really, every race we have done since then has got us a little closer, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and we feel like we are making our car better and better and better.”
 
The No. 33 Viper GT3-R proved to be a good fit for the high-speed Mosport track. Bleekemolen won the pole in Saturday qualifying and race-starting driver Keating led twice in his opening stint. Bleekemolen took over for the second half of the race and made the winning pass just under two laps from the finish.
 
“Mosport was probably one of the best tracks on the calendar for us,” Bleekemolen said. “Indy will be harder, but we should be pretty strong again. We are lucky we will run a chicane now instead of Turn 1 of the oval. In that chicane we will make up time, where we would have lost time otherwise on the oval and into the straight. The GTD class is so competitive that you never know before you actually drive if you can win, but we will certainly try hard.” 
 
The Indy road course configuration runs counter-course to the historic 2.5-mile oval used for the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400. The layout used the last two years has been modified slightly for Friday’s IMSA TUDOR Championship race. Instead of making the high-speed run through the oval’s traditional Turn 1 that actually completes the 2.435-mile speedway road course lap, the track has been altered to include a slower chicane portion.
 
“The track has changed and to me I think it is changed to our advantage,” Keating said. “We are not going to be around the banking as long as we would have in the old configuration. The new layout is more raceable, it makes for more interesting racing, more interesting television. We won’t be on the banking as long so being down on top speed will not hurt us as much.”
 
Keating and Bleekemolen are one of the few duos in either IMSA TUDOR Championship GT division that has both drivers experienced on the Indianapolis road course.
 
“I have only raced there once, back in 2005,” Bleekemolen said. “I have great memories from that race. I raced in Porsche Supercup and it was my first race ever in a Porsche. Normally new drivers take a while in Supercup to do well, but I took a podium that weekend and it really helped my career. A podium at Indy is always going to be special.”
 
Keating was a competitor in the first headline sports car race at Indy in 2012, the inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix.
 
“I am really excited to go back to Indy,” Keating said. “It’s an iconic track obviously. I raced there in GRAND-AM in a Porsche in 2012 and it was great fun. I ran with Joerg Bergmeister, it rained, and he did an epic job on the rain, passing prototypes.”  
 
The two-day Brickyard Grand Prix schedule starts Thursday with practice and qualifying. Race-day Friday begins with a 2 p.m. EDT warm-up before the featured Brickyard Grand Prix that is scheduled to go green at 5:45 p.m. EDT.
 
Noteworthy
 
-Keating and the Viper Exchange/Riley Technologies crew didn’t rest for long after the breakout Mosport victory. They brought the No. 33 to the Grassroots Motorsports Magazine Ultimate Track Car Challenge the following Friday at Virginia International Raceway and walked away with the overall champion’s trophy with the fastest lap of the day. Keating’s winning lap time of 1:45.394 would have earned the pole position at last year’s American Le Mans Series race at VIR.  
 
“This event has just a totally different feeling than all of the big-time stress of a race weekend,” Keating said. “It is just a bunch of great guys wanting to go out and have fun. It’s a run-what-you-brung kind of a deal and it was a total blast.”
 
A total open competition, Riley Technologies pulled out the stops on the No. 33 to take the victory.
 
“We really tried to go back to the GT3-spec car that it started life as,” Keating said. “It really didn’t make sense to go on with the ABS, so we left the ABS off, but we put the GT3-spec rear wing on it, and put the rear-wheel speed sensors back on and turned on the traction control. The Michelins were the same as the GTLM cars run, and we took the restrictor out, which was a huge deal. With the restrictor in GTD we are running somewhere between 450 and 500 horsepower. Without the restrictor we are running somewhere around 680. It really was a ton of fun.”

 

Five Questions With ... Ben Keating

Ben Keating gave the Dodge Viper its first TUDOR United SportsCar Championship victory last weekend, joining Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 33 Viper Exchange Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R in winning the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix Presented by Hawk Performance at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

The pair took the GT Daytona (GTD) class in thrilling fashion, with Bleekemolen passing Park Place Motorsports driver Kevin Estre two laps from the finish and winning by 1.038 seconds. Keating started the race on the demanding 2.459-mile circuit and led twice during his stint, turning the car over to Bleekemolen in the lead.

Five Questions With ... Ben KeatingKeating raced a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in last year’s American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, winning the GTC class with Damien Faulkner at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas. It was the first time that he regularly raced a car other than a Viper in his career.

He won five career championships in Vipers – including the 2011 and 2012 SRT Viper Cup – winning five races the later year.

“Racing what he sells,” Keating operates the largest Viper dealership in the nation, located on the outskirts of Houston. Viper Exchange is the conglomerate of Keating’s four Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep dealerships in Texas, centered at Tomball Dodge Chrysler Jeep near Houston. In all, he owns the Keating Auto Group, which includes nine dealerships representing 10 different brands.

How important was your first TUDOR Championship victory in the Dodge Viper GT3-R at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park?

“It was a huge deal. Not only is it chassis No. 1 of a brand-new car, but it was a new team, new everything. With all the setbacks we’ve had this season, whether it was blowing an engine or burning at Sebring, we feel like we’ve started over a few times. We’ve always had a fast car. We’ve got a great driver lineup and a great team. But this was the first time we’ve been on the podium – let alone being on the top step.”

How did you get involved with Vipers?

“Back in 2005, my wife gave me a Driving Experience weekend at Texas World Speedway (in College Station) for Christmas. Being that I’m a Dodge dealer, I knew I had to take a high-performance car, so I grabbed a Viper right off the showroom and took it to the speedway. It was the best stress reliever I’ve had in my entire life, and I was hooked forever. It was an adrenaline rush. Every time I’d get off the track I’d be shaking from all the adrenaline. Then the next hour sitting in the garage before the next session would be the most relaxed I’d felt in years. I fell in love with it, and ended getting involved with the Viper Racing League. I learned to race in a Viper and raced several of them, and won lots of championships with them. I also started to sell quite a few Vipers. Because the Viper community is so close knit, along the way I became the No. 1 volume Viper dealer in the world. It’s become not only what I know and love, it’s also what I sell. As I said from the podium at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, hopefully it’s a case of ‘Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.’”

How did you get to purchase the first Viper GT3-R, and how did you get involved with Bill Riley in setting up the GT Daytona team?

“Ever since the car was announced at the (2012) New York Auto Show, I was all over it. There was speculation at the time that it would be eligible for the ALMS.  Bill Riley was there, Scott Atherton was there, and I was in everybody’s ear at the show, trying to see if I could make that happen. That talk went away after the merger was announced, but I was still hopeful. Quite frankly, that was why I ran the whole (2013) season in the ALMS GTC class with the Porsche, in preparation and in hopefulness of being able to run in the TUDOR Championship in a Viper. That enabled me to stay close to SRT and those relationships. Once they developed the idea that they might be able to make it happen, you had to have someone willing to take the first leap of faith – to jump off the cliff – buy the first car, help develop the car and show off what the car could do. I was eager to be the hand raiser. So early on I agreed to buy the first car and help Bill Riley develop it into one of the top cars.”

What role did you play in setting up the new Vipers?

“The development really took place in the fall and spring of this past winter. We spent quite a bit of time testing at the track in Kershaw (South Carolina). It was a matter of doing laps, figuring out what we need to work on. There’s a lot of work like that to be done with a totally brand-new car. We did a lot of driving and a lot of work, and we really felt good coming in to the brand-new series with a brand-new car. We felt we had a car capable of making it to the end of the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, but our only problem was we ended up having to replace the clutch. A minor tolerance difference caused the clutch to fail after 15 hours. There was no way we could have known that unless we ran the car 15 hours straight. Whether it was the clutch tolerance at Daytona, or the shifting problem that resulted in the fire at Sebring, you’re always continuing to develop the car, it’s a non-stop process.”

Now, the TUDOR Championship is headed to Indianapolis. What’s your favorite Indy 500 memory, and what’s it like to race at the famed Brickyard?

“As a kid growing up, I was not into racing cars. My father was a Ford dealer, and he won a trip to the Indy 500 in 1992, and he asked me to go with him. It was a phenomenal trip, and it was a joy to go the way we went, super first class. Our seats were right at the finish line. For your first experience to go to that iconic race, and see what was the closest finish in history at the time, was super exciting. That’s where I first learned what all the commotion was about, at what I called the ‘Super Bowl of motorsports.’ 

“I ran at Indy with GRAND-AM in 2012, in a Porsche with Jorg Bergmeister, and had a phenomenal weekend. It rained heavily, and it was really tricky, and Jorg was unbelievable driving in the rain. He was going by Prototypes like they were cones on the track. I kissed the bricks and have a lot of photographs from the weekend. Quite frankly, I want to win there now to make that picture legit. I feel like a poser, having kissed the bricks at Indy without a win.” (He finished 11th).

Source:

Read more http://www.imsa.com/articles/five-questions-ben-keating

 


Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen Score First Viper GT3-R Victory in IMSA TUDOR Championship

 
Last-Lap Pass Gives No. 33 Viper Exchange Team Deserved Victory at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
 
BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada (July 14, 2014) – Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen co-drove to the first victory for Viper Exchange and the Viper GT3-R in the IMSA TUDOR Championship at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park where a thrilling last-lap pass sealed the GT Daytona (GTD) win on Sunday.
 
Keating led twice in his race-opening driving shift, a season-best performance that set the tone for a winning day. 
 
“It’s been a longtime coming,” Keating said. “We both drove a great race, we had a great car, it’s easy to drive and that’s all you can ask for at this kind of a track. High-speed track, lots of risk, and it was a lot of fun. Hopefully we win on Sunday and sell on Monday at Viper Exchange.”
 
Keating handed the No. 33 Viper GT3-R to pole-winning teammate Bleekemolen during the first pit stop. Bleekemolen returned to the race in the top five, made up a few positions, and then had some good luck in traffic as he closed on race-leader Kevin Estre as the white flag flew.  
 
“I got a bit lucky at the end with Kevin Estre,” Bleekemolen said. “He caught a lot of traffic and in one lap he lost like four seconds. I saw it happening, he couldn’t do anything about it, there was like four or five cars overtaking him. I have been there before too but we will take it. It was a great day and it is great to win with this Viper, it is the first win and hopefully not the last, but we are just very happy with it.”
 
The Viper Exchange GT3-R team has been competitive all year but overcame a string of setbacks – including a devastating fire at Sebring in March – to finally put all of the pieces together at Mosport.
 
The Viper GT3-R is built by Riley Technologies that also runs Keating’s Viper Exchange team under the leadership of Bill Riley.
 
“We have had a great effort all season with Ben Keating and ViperExchange and it is great to finally see it all pay off,” Riley said. “Everybody has been working hard, we had an issue at Sebring, we didn’t have the Daytona we wanted to have, so now it’s finally clicking and we are finally moving forward.”
 
The Viper Exchange win was part of an all-podium Viper day as both GTLM-class GTS-Rs also made it to victory lane with respective second and third-place finishes.
 
“A win is always helpful for gaining attention for the car and this is a big victory for the car,” said SRT Racing Manager Gary Johnson. “It comes at the right time, the team worked really hard, the pit stops were fantastic and you have to give credit to Ben and Jeroen, they kept the car in one piece and clean and brought it home.”
 
On top of winning the race from the pole – both first time Viper Exchange and Viper GT3-R achievements – Bleekemolen also set the fastest GTD-class race lap chasing down the leader in the race’s late stages.
 
“It’s unbelievable,” said Riley’s Viper Exchange Team Manager Greg Jones. “Everybody at Riley and Ben Keating, he has always been there for us with Viper Exchange, so it has been really good. This is definitely what we needed for sure. I have known Ben and I have worked with Ben multiple times, and I think that’s probably the best drive I have ever seen him do. He just did solid laps, fought his way back into first, great drive by Ben and Jeroen today.” 
 
Viper Exchange moves on to compete in the Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, July 25. The event on the 2.534-mile circuit can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 at 7 p.m. EDT.
 
About Viper Exchange:Viper Exchange 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, Viper Exchange has combined the largest inventory in the world of new and pre-owned Dodge Vipers.  Viper Exchange also offers the best prices and discounts. Special orders, specific model searches and financing options are also available.  Visit directly at Viper Exchange, Twitter @ViperExchange and Facebook at Facebook.com/Viper-Exchange.

 

CONTACT:

Adam Saal

asaal@ententeinteractive.com

321.890.2848

 

 



Bleekemolen, Keating Give Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R First Victory

BOWMANVILLE, ONTARIO, CANADA (July 13, 2014) – Jeroen Bleekemolen passed Kevin Estre in traffic with two laps remaining and went on to win the GT Daytona (GTD) class, giving the No. 33 Riley Motorsports/Viper Exchange Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R started by Ben Keating its first victory.
 
It was the eighth lead change in the competitive class that saw Bleekemolen beat Estre to the checkered flag by 1.038 seconds. 
 
“I felt bad for Kevin, because I saw it all happening in front of me,” Bleekemolen said. “It looked like we were going to be second, but we got a little bit lucky at the end.”
 
“This is not only our first win, but our first podium,” Keating said. “We have had our share of tough luck this season, so to a certain extent we felt like we were due. We’ve always been down on top speed, but the sweeping corners here really suit out car.”
 
Estre and Patrick Lindsey were looking to give Park Place Motorsports its first GTD class victory in the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT America, before getting hung up in late-race traffic. Lindsey started seventh and moved up to second before his pit stop, with Estre passing Bleekemolen for the class lead with 57 minutes remaining.
 
After winning the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen two weeks ago, the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 of Markus Palttala and Dane Cameron led in the early going. A stop-plus-20-second penalty when equipment rolled outside the team’s pit box dropped the team from second to seventh. Cameron managed to work his way back to a third-place finish.
 
The competitive race saw 16 of the 17 GTD starters running within four laps of the lead at the finish.

 



Bleekemolen and the Viper GT3-R Win First IMSA TUDOR Championship Pole 
 

No. 33 Viper Exchange Team Part of Viper Pole Sweep at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park  

BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada (July 12, 2014) – Jeroen Bleekemolen gave Viper Exchange and co-driver Ben Keating their first pole in the new No. 33 Viper GT3-R in qualifying for tomorrow’s IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Saturday 
Bleekemolen posted the fastest time early in qualifying and then came back to seal the pole for good on his sixth of nine
laps in the fast, 15-minute session. The pole-winning lap time of 1:19.004 (112.050 mph) topped a strong field of 18 other GTD (GT Daytona) class competitors. 
 
Teammate and Viper Exchange principal Keating will start the No. 33 in tomorrow’s 2-3/4 hour race on the Canadian Tire “Mosport” road course. “Jeroen turned just an incredible lap time,” Keating said. “His best theoretical time was 1:18.996, just 8/1000ths off of what he turned. I have never seen a lap that close to perfect. We still don’t have the quickest car, others have better theoretical laps, but our setup has allowed us to be comfortable at the limit and get the possible lap time out of a car that is not the fastest.” 
 
The first-year Viper Exchange team and the Viper GT3-R have been competitive at every race, but a string of typical new-car issues and some uncanny bad luck have prevented a strong race finish. Bleekemolen previously qualified a then season-best second at Detroit but he and Keating are still looking for a race result reflective of the team’s performance. 
 
“It’s great,” Bleekemolen said. “We started this program with a new car. It’s been a good car since the beginning and we’ve just been unlucky with some small issues, but I think we could have had a good result already. It shows we never gave up. The whole team worked very hard for this and hopefully our back luck is gone now. Putting it on pole really means something and it’s just great to be able to do this. The team has worked so hard and the Viper is absolutely fantastic.”

  

 Bleekemolen proved once again he knows the quick way around Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, as he also won the pole in the GT Challenge class for last year’s American Le Mans Series race, which he went on to win.

 “It was a great achievement for the whole team because it is a new project,” said Bleekemolen, who earned the 16th pole of his career. “It’s a new build for this year. We’ve been a bit unlucky in the races, we’ve shown already we have some speed in other events. Finally we were able to put it on pole.”

 Keating gave credit to his Riley Technologies team on what was a great day for SRT Motorsports Vipers at Mosport. Kuno Wittmer also won the GTLM class pole in the No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R.

 “We really nailed the setup,” Keating said. “We pulled out all kinds of tricks to get the pole and Jeroen put in that just amazing lap. We should have a great car tomorrow and I am hoping it stays dry because so many others are looking for rain. I am really comfortable at this track and learned a ton last year and in GT3 Cup. This could be our race. We are due.”

 
Sunday’s Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix Presented by Hawk Performance airs live on FOX Sports 1 at 2 p.m. EDT.
CONTACT:

Adam Saal

asaal@ententeinteractive.com

321.890.2848

 


 


Ben Keating and Viper Exchange Bring Viper Home to Detroit with Co-Driver Jeroen Bleekemolen 

 
No. 33 Viper Exchange Viper GT3-R Team Only American-Made GTD Entry in IMSA TUDOR Championship Street Race at Detroit Belle Isle
 
DETROIT (May 29, 2014) – Ben Keating and his Viper Exchange racing team will bring the Viper GT3-R back home to Detroit with co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen for this weekend’s IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Detroit Grand Prix, May 30 – 31, on Belle Isle.
 
Saturday’s featured race is the fourth TUDOR Championship GT Daytona (GTD) round of the year and starts at 12:10 p.m. EDT. The 100-minute sprint race, which also includes the Prototype class, can be seen in virtual live coverage – the telecast will begin before the race is over – on FOX Sports 1 at 1:30 p.m. EDT/10:30 a.m. PDT. Live coverage can also be heard on MRN Radio starting at Noon and local Detroit radio network WDFN-AM 1130.
 
“The Viper will be the only American-made car in the United SportsCar GTD class,” Keating said. “This is a huge deal and a ton of pressure. A podium finish in the city where every Viper is hand built would be a big deal.”  
 
A street race is challenging enough, but the Viper Exchange team comes to Detroit still lacking some overall horsepower to the competition within the current IMSA TUDOR Championship rules structure.
 
“We are the slowest car on the straights so we will have to make up time in the corners,” Bleekemolen said. “Usually street tracks are low speed, I don't know this track yet, but I still feel this is one of the tracks that could suit our car very well.”
 
The Viper Exchange team, which is run by Riley Technologies, has worked hard to perfect a setup for the Viper GT3-R that maximizes cornering and handling rather than overall top speed 
 
“Our big V-10 is cut back so much that we are forced to make our car perform under braking and handling,” Keating said. “We are the slowest car in top speed so our Viper shines the best on short courses. Typically, a street course is bumpy and has less grip. The Viper Exchange GT3-R handles both conditions fairly well. It is frustrating for me to say this, but right now the shorter the course the better our car is. We have been forced to develop a race car that gets the job done somewhere other than the straights.”   
 
Keating and Bleekemolen join several other TUDOR Championship drivers in making their Detroit debut on the 2.360-mile, 11-turn Belle Isle street circuit.
 
“It is the first time to Belle Isle for both Jeroen and I,” Keating said. “I have been watching video and studying the track map. It does not seem like a difficult track to learn, which usually means there are some subtle things that make a big difference. It makes it fun to learn a new course and focuses the team's efforts. My only experience with street courses was last year in ALMS. We did Long Beach and Baltimore and it is definitely a different type of racing. It favors the conservative driver.” 
 
Bleekemolen has also done some online pre-race homework in preparation for Belle Isle.
 
“I watched some onboard camera footage from previous years on YouTube to know where the track turns left and right,” Bleekemolen said. “I always do that to learn new tracks and on Thursday I will walk the track to see the curbs. There's not much more you can do, but it should be enough.”
 
After starting the season with the Rolex 24 At Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring endurance races, Detroit is the second GTD short sprint in a row and the division’s only street-course event of the season. One race ago the GTD class joined the PC division for a two-hour sprint at Laguna Seca.
 
"I think our chances are good,” Bleekemolen said. “We have a car that works well on bumps, which will help on a street track. I always love racing between the walls. You can't make mistakes which makes it more exciting and challenging.” 
 
A two-day event, the Detroit schedule begins Friday with a pair of practice sessions from 9:35 until 11:05 a.m. and 1:35 to 3:05 p.m. The GTD division qualifies later on Friday from 5:25 to 5:40 p.m. Race-day Saturday starts with a 20-minute warm-up at 8 a.m. before the start of that afternoon’s race at 12:10 p.m. 
 
Noteworthy
 
-Keating and Bleekemolen are making their Belle Isle debuts but the top Dutch driver has seen some success on other well-known temporary street circuits. “I have won twice in Monaco with the Porsche Supercup and also won street races like Beijing with A1GP and Long Beach with ALMS,” Bleekemolen said. “I love street tracks, so I'm really happy we go to Detroit. I don't know the track yet, but that shouldn't be a problem. Every driver will have to build up to nicely, even if you know the track.”
 
-Bleekemolen is one of about 20 IMSA TUDOR Championship regulars who will also be racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, June 14 – 15, but he will not be taking an overnight flight to France after the Detroit race to participate in Sunday’s Le Mans Pre-Test event. “We're not doing the Le Mans test as all of the drivers are at Detroit,” Bleekemolen said. “So I will fly home to my family on Saturday night.” Bleekemolen will co-drive at Le Mans with former IMSA teammate and fellow GTD competitor Cooper McNeill and experienced American sports car racing driver Bret Curtis, who is competing in the World Challenge class this weekend at Detroit.


Bleekemolen Charges to Front Row Start for Viper Exchange in SRT Backyard

 
Best Qualifying Run to Date for Bleekemolen and Keating in SRT Viper GT3-R
 
DETROIT (May 30, 2014) - In only the fourth qualification run in the history of the all-new Viper GT3-R, veteran driver Jeroen Bleekemolen set a blistering time for the No. 33 Viper Exchange machine to qualify second in the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s GTD category for tomorrow’s Detroit Grand Prix.
 
“It’s great to start at the front, it’s important in a short race like this, especially at a street course,” Bleekemolen said. “On the other hand, I expect it’s going to be a tough race tomorrow. The balance-of-performance restricts us to have a low top speed, but we have a very well handling car, and we’ll have to fight hard to keep it where we are.”
 
During the 15-minute qualifying, Bleekemolen, hailing from the Netherlands, immediately went to work to make the most of the short session. With the temporary street course in Detroit’s scenic Belle Isle Park gaining speed with every lap, Bleekemolen never lost sight of the top three, however with his competitors continually throwing down fastest lap after fastest lap, it would take his eighth tour with a time of 1:33.192 (90.780 mph) to lock the car in to the front row.
 
Running for 100 minutes, the shortest distance of any event this year, Viper Exchange’s front-row position will put them in a prime position at a circuit which is already notorious for difficult passing.
 
For co-driver Ben Keating, who will start the race, the team’s track position will be key.
 
“It’s an incredibly tough track to pass, so it will make a huge difference to start up front,” Keating said. “Realistically, to have a shot at a podium here, you need to be in the top half for sure. Quite frankly, second is more than we expected based on our practice times, and it’s great. The car was built right here in Detroit, so to be on the front row in the home town is a big deal.”
 
Tomorrow’s race-day begins with a 20-minute warm-up at 8 a.m. with race television coverage on Fox Sports 1 at 1:30PM ET.
 
About Viper Exchange:Viper Exchange 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, Viper Exchange has combined the largest inventory in the world of new and pre-owned Dodge Vipers.  Viper Exchange also offers the best prices and discounts. Special orders, specific model searches and financing options are also available.  Visit directly at Viper Exchange, Twitter @ViperExchange and Facebook at Facebook.com/Viper-Exchange.

 

Viper Exchange, Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen Finish in New Viper GT3-R Debut at Continental Tire Grand Prix of Monterey
 
No. 33 Viper Exchange Viper GT3-R Team Gets Finish They Need But Not The Result They Wanted at Laguna Seca
 
MONTEREY, Calif. (May 5, 2014) – Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and the No. 33 Viper Exchange Viper GT3-R team earned a race finish they needed but not the result they wanted Sunday in the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Continental Tire Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca.
 
Just competing at Laguna Seca in itself was a triumph for the Viper Exchange team after a completely new car was unveiled this weekend after a devastating fire one race ago in the 12 Hours of Sebring. Keating was uninjured in the incident and joined the team in its determination to be race-ready for this weekend in Monterey.
 
The newly built Viper GT3-R was fast out-of-the-box, and after practicing second and Bleekemolen’s sixth-place qualifying run on Saturday, starting driver Keating ran with the lead pack from the race start. He was battling for top-five position in the early going when he inadvertently made contact with the eventual race-winning BMW Z4. 
 
“The BMW got by me and was fighting it out with a Porsche in front of me,” Keating said. “Heading into Turn 11, the last turn before the straight, I saw the BMW go for the pass, I backed up and concentrated on getting a really good run through there because I knew side-by-side would slow them both down. I thought I might be able to set them up for a pass into Turn 2.
 
“What ended up happening was that the Porsche driver didn’t see that the BMW was passing him there, turned down on him, and here I come planning to get this great run down the straight. The BMW had to check up and I ran into the back of him.”
 
Keating was assessed a “stop plus-60” penalty for what was judged as an “avoidable contact” incident. The No. 33 was held in the pits for a full minute and the team fell over a lap down and out of contention for any type of positive race result.
 
Keating pitted soon after the penalty and Bleekemolen took over for a fast but mildly frustrating run to the checkered flag.
 
“Even a lap down, I was running with some of the good guys that were there in the end and we seemed to be quite competitive, so we can be happy with that,” Bleekemolen said. “We just need that one more lap I guess and we would have been fighting for a podium. The positive thing is there is always a next time. If we can build on this one and get everything together, we are definitely a team that people will notice.”
 
Next up for Viper Exchange and the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona (GTD) class is the fourth round of the year at the Raceway on Belle Isle Park in Detroit, May 30 – 31.
 
About Viper Exchange: Viper Exchange 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, Viper Exchange has combined the largest inventory in the world of new and pre-owned Dodge Vipers.  Viper Exchange also offers the best prices and discounts. Special orders, specific model searches and financing options are also available.  Visit directly at Viper Exchange, Twitter @ViperExchange and Facebook at Facebook.com/Viper-Exchange.

 

CONTACT:

Adam Saal

asaal@ententeinteractive.com

321.890.2848

Ben Keating, Viper Exchange and Teammate Jeroen Bleekemolen Back for Continental Tire Grand Prix of Monterey
 
No. 33 Viper Exchange Viper GT3-R Rebuild Complete After Sebring Fire
 
MONTEREY, Calif. (May 2, 2014) – Ben Keating and co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen will be behind the wheel of a new but familiar No. 33 Viper Exchange Viper GT3-R at this weekend’s Continental Tire Grand Prix of Monterey, May 3 – 4, following a devastating fire in the first hour of the 12 Hours of Sebring one race ago that nearly destroyed the team’s original Viper GT3-R chassis No. 1.
 
Sunday’s race, the first of an IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship doubleheader and the third GT Daytona (GTD) round of the season, starts at 10:15 a.m. PDT with live coverage on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 1 p.m. EDT/10 a.m. PDT. The two-hour sprint will be for GTD division cars like the Viper Exchange Viper GT3-R that will share the track with the Prototype Challenge (PC) class. The day’s second two-hour will be for the Prototype and GT Le Mans (GTLM) classes and can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 at 5 p.m. EDT/2 p.m. PDT.
 
Keating, who raced in third place for the majority of Sebring's opening hour, escaped uninjured when the No. 33 erupted in flames just after the team’s first and ultimately only pit stop of the race. The Viper Exchange/Riley Technologies team later learned that the Viper’s drive shaft had disconnected from the rear axle and likely severed a fuel line as it battered around, still connected to the engine, in the drive shaft tunnel.
 
The fire initially looked severe but some quick action by Keating and the attending safety personnel extinguished the blaze before the Viper was a total loss. Riley Technologies assessed the damage in the days following the incident back at the team shop in North Carolina. 
 
“For the most part, all news was good news,” Keating said. “There is nothing more damaging to a car than fire. I would rather have a big crash as compared to a fire. However, when Riley got everything back to the shop we learned that the fire never got that hot. Basically, everything metal was OK and everything plastic was not, but it was a big job to rebuild the car. Riley deserves huge credit. Luckily we had almost everything needed as part of our spares package.” 
 
Among the spares on the ready was Viper GT3-R chassis No. 4 that Riley’s team back at the race shop had ironically finished the Friday of Sebring race weekend. A tear-down of the burned car in the week following the accident happily revealed that chassis No. 1 was far from damaged beyond repair, but the decision was quickly made to base the rebuild around the newer No. 4 chassis.
 
“It took about a week and a half to strip it all the way down and get the chassis cleaned up and ready to go out and get blasted,” said Bill Riley, Vice President and Chief Engineer of Riley Technologies. “Meanwhile, the other mechanics were putting together the new car which just happened to be in the assembly shop and ready to go. It was just a bare chassis, but it had just been painted and was completed that Friday, so the day before we had the fire there was a new chassis sitting in the shop.”
 
Riley in turn gave Keating credit for smartly investing in some early-season parts inventory, another move that eased the build process.
 
“Ben stocked up pretty heavily on spares to start the season off so we kind of dug into those quite a bit,” Riley said. “We wanted to make this the most affordable transition that we could but now we are going to have to go back, reassess what our spare parts levels are and see how we want to rebuild going forward.”
 
Among any restocked spare parts inventory will likely be chassis No. 1 itself and some other refurbished parts from the Sebring race car. The engine was rebuilt, fitted with a new wiring harness and, along with the transmission and rear end, is on hand this weekend at Laguna Seca as usable spares. 
 
“Most all of the bodywork was destroyed, of course, but a lot of the suspension components we were able to salvage and use in the build,” Viper Exchange Team Manager Greg Jones said. “We had the time between Monterey and Sebring to get the car built but I think the first time it really looked like a car was around the 16th or 17th of April. These cars kind of look like Skeletor without the body on them, it is hard to track the progress by a quick look, but this is a fresh chassis so there was a lot to be done from the ground up. It’s a new car.”
 
Familiar Riley Technologies test driver Tony Ave successfully shook down the new No. 33 on April 22 on the Kershaw road course in North Carolina and the team packed the car up shortly thereafter for the trip to Monterey.
 
This weekend’s race can’t come soon enough for Keating who stays busy on a daily basis as the principal of the world’s largest Viper retailer through his Viper Exchange network of dealerships.
 
“I can't be away from work long enough to go out and do some driving outside of our IMSA TUDOR GTD program and the long break has me ‘Jonesing’ for some track time,” Keating said. “It’s killing me! I look at the fact that we only have two short practice sessions before the race, and know that we have a ton of set up work to be done on our fresh car, so I worry that I still won't get my fix with such a short race. Needless to say, I am extremely ready to get back in the car.”
 
Bleekemolen is looking forward to getting the Viper Exchange team back on track and the annual visit to Laguna Seca.
 
“It's great to go back racing,” Bleekemolen said. “We have had a difficult start of the season so I'm really looking forward to showing the potential of our car and team. Riley has built us a great car, we have just been unlucky so far, but I'm very positive about this weekend. I have always loved going to Laguna Seca. The whole track is pretty amazing and, of course, the Corkscrew is most famous and very special, but also after the start-finish straight there is some big elevation. It's just great to be running here again.”
 
A two-day event, the Continental Tire Grand Prix of Monterey begins with practice and qualifying on Saturday. Race-day Sunday starts with a 20-minute warm-up at 8 a.m. PDT for all IMSA TUDOR classes before the 10:15 a.m. PDT race start for the GTD/PC race.
 
About Viper Exchange:Viper Exchange 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, Viper Exchange has combined the largest inventory in the world of new and pre-owned Dodge Vipers.  Viper Exchange also offers the best prices and discounts. Special orders, specific model searches and financing options are also available.  Visit directly at Viper Exchange, Twitter @ViperExchange and Facebook at Facebook.com/Viper-Exchange.

 

CONTACT:

Adam Saal

asaal@ententeinteractive.com

321.890.2848

2014 United SportsCar Championship 12 Hours of Sebring Ben Keating SRT Viper GT3-R Huge Fire

Less than an hour and a half into Saturday's 12 Hours of Sebring, fans saw the first fiery casualty.

Early in the race a massive fire erupted inside the SRT Viper GT3-R, piloted at the time by Ben Keating. Keating escaped quickly, but the Viper got roasted.

 
No. 33 Viper Exchange Team to Debut Viper GT3-R in the 12 Hours of Sebring

Ben Keating and Brothers Jeroen and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen Looking for GTD Victory in Just Second Race for Viper GT3-R

SEBRING, Fla. (March 12, 2014) – Ben Keating and the No. 33 Viper Exchange team, which includes Dutch racing brothers Jeroen and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, will be looking for the GT Daytona (GTD) class victory in Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in what will be just the second race start for the all-new Vipers GT3-R.

Viper Exchange team returns to Sebring after running at a top-five GTD-class pace on the legendary 3.74-mile airport road course in last month’s IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Winter Test. The strong Sebring test followed an encouraging debut for the Viper Exchange team and the Viper GT3-R in January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Keating, a two-time National Viper Cup Champion, is also the principal of the world’s largest Viper retailer through his Viper Exchange network of dealerships.

“I believe Sebring is going to suit our car much better than Daytona,” Keating said. “My expectation is higher but I have a hard time telling the difference between excitement and anxiety. I think they both register as stress for me! With 17 turns, I think Sebring is more challenging to stay out of trouble with the other classes, but we are focused on having a clean race and hope to bring it in up front in GTD. I believe we have the car, the team, and the drivers who can win this race.”    

The Bleekemolen brothers are from one of the top racing families in Holland.

“This is one of the biggest races in the world,” Jeroen Bleekemolen said.  “A win here means a lot. Sebring has so much history and it's great we have the chance to be part of that. Our class is very strong, so whoever comes out on top, it will be a great achievement for anyone.”

Both Bleekemolens have Sebring wins in the former ALMS GT Challenge (GTC) class that has basically been meshed into the new IMSA GTD class this season.

“I was on the podium twice already at Sebring in the GTC class,” Sebastiaan Bleekemolen said. “Although these races were not easy, the GTD class will be even more difficult. It would be a great honor to win this race with the high level of drivers, teams and cars. It’s always hard to say, but if I look to the results of the recent test, I’m confident that we will be fast.”

Jeroen Bleekemolen is the reigning GTC Sebring race winner while his older brother took the honor in 2011.

“I believe we have a shot at the win,” said Jeroen Bleekemolen, which would be his third in a row at Sebring. “The team has done an amazing job to build the car, make it competitive and reliable. The IMSA Balance of Performance (BoP) didn't work in our favor at Daytona but adjustments have been made and we should be much stronger. We had a really good test. We did many laps, had the chance to work on the car and improved a lot. In a 12 hour race at Sebring anything can happen, but I think we are ready!”

The Mobil1 Twelve Hours of Sebring can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 and www.IMSA.com.  Prior to the start of the race, www.IMSA.com will feature two pre-race shows.

The first, "Through the Driver's Eyes, Driven by Continental Tire," a 45-minute program narrated by former Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti, provides a unique, behind-the-scenes look at many top IMSA drivers and teams.

Following "Through the Driver's Eyes, Driven by Continental Tire," www.IMSA.com will feature a live pre-race show from the Sebring grid hosted by popular commentator Justin Bell. The show will include driver interviews and pre-race activities as teams make their final preparations for the grueling 12-hour battle.

The first three hours of the race can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 at 10 a.m. EDT/7 a.m. PDT before switching over to live coverage on www.IMSA.com at 1 p.m. EDT/10 a.m. PDT until just after the race finish at 10:30 p.m. EDT.

FOX Sports 1 also will televise a three-hour IMSA TUDOR Championship full-race highlight show from Sebring beginning at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Sunday, March 16.

About Viper Exchange: Viper Exchange 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, Viper Exchange has combined the largest inventory in the world of new and pre-owned Dodge Vipers.  Viper Exchange also offers the best prices and discounts. Special orders, specific model searches and financing options are also available.  Visit directly at Viper Exchange, Twitter @ViperExchange and Facebook at Facebook.com/Viper-Exchange.