Jeremy and James may not have been enamoured with it on last night’s rather excellent show, but we’re pretty sure some Americans - and indeed Richard - will be pleased to learn that the new Viper is headed to Le Mans.
That’s right: the racing version of the brand-spanking new SRT Viper, the GTS-R, will contest the LM GTE Pro class at this year’s gruelling 24-hour race at La Sarthe.
For anyone fond of racing Vipers, this, then, is Good News. Specifically because the original, 1996 Viper GTS-R earned five international GT championships, won the ‘97, ‘98 and ‘99 FIA GT championship and had three consecutive one-two finishes at Le Mans in the GTS class. Pedigree, people.
SRT chief Ralph Gilles knows this, and wants a return of the Viper name to the racetrack. “Racing is truly a part of the illustrious history of Viper. Historically the GTS-R has enjoyed great success at Le Mans, so we couldn’t be more excited and proud to accept the challenge to return to France.”
Two Viper GTS-Rs will race this year, and interestingly, the Viper gets special dispensation. Normal Le Mans rules caps GT petrol engine size at 5.5-litres, but SRT got permission to run an 8.0-litre version of its V10, though restricted by a special intake. It does, as the SRT team concede, “take a big chunk out of Viper’s power curve”, but they reckon it’ll still be quick.
It runs 455bhp, a 182mph top speed, a paddle shift gearbox, huge 380mm Brembo discs up front and 330mm discs at the back, 18in forged magnesium wheels, Michelin slicks, and weighs in at just 1,292kg (2850lbs).
Will this GTS-R Viper give the racing Corvettes sleepless nights? Maybe. After all, we heard this racing Viper undergoing a shakedown at Virginia Raceway last year. And it sounded rather tasty…