SRT Pulling Vipers Out of Le Mans
Something is most certainly afoot at SRT. After choosing to suspend SRT Viper production for two months starting on April 14, SRT will not race at Le Mans in 2014 as planned.
SRT re-entered Le Mans last year and was slotted to compete in this year's race with two SRT Viper GTS-R race cars, but the brand recently changed its mind. "We regretfully and respectfully decline to participate in this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans," said SRT President and CEO Ralph Gilles in a statement. "We will remain focused on our North American racing program in 2014."
Both SRT Viper GTS-R race cars will continue to seek the podium at the remaining IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship events, after seeing success at Daytona and Sebring. In terms of future European competition, for now only the SRT Viper GT3-R customer program will be racing on that side of the pond. Factory-backed racing efforts will be isolated to North America.
Some have speculated that less-than-stellar sales of the SRT Viper have forced budget cuts, resulting in both the production halt and now trimmings to the motorsport spending, but officials deny these claims. "This decision is not a result from the lack of Viper sales, as motorsports and product strategy are two separate business functions within SRT," said an SRT Motorsports spokesperson.
Although sales of the SRT Viper tallied up to a mere 591 units in 2013, and just 91 have sold in the first two months of 2014, Gilles maintains that the car's exclusivity is part of its identity. "It's a hand-made vehicle," Gilles told Automobile last month at the Chicago auto show. "It was never designed to be a mass-production car."
There is apparently a 412-day supply of SRT Viper vehicles currently available, which could be nearly enough to satisfy the supercar's customer base through the year. While this may not be directly related to SRT Motorsports' decision to withdraw from Le Mans, it certainly doesn't look good for SRT to drop out of competition just one year after returning to the field.