- Chrysler will return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month with a pair of SRT Viper GTS-R racecars.
- The works team dominated with 1-2 sweeps at Le Mans in three consecutive years from 1998-2000.
- Chrysler is calling the return a new chapter of Viper racing.
AUBURN HILLS, Michigan — Chrysler will return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month with a pair of SRT Viper GTS-R racecars.
Chrysler Group will field its first works team since 2000 in next month's 81st edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France.
Two SRT Viper GTS-R machines will be entered, with the goal of repeating the 1-2 sweeps that factory-backed Viper machines posted in 1998, 1999 and 2000.
The 56 cars that will make up the field all compete by invitation of the organizing body, France's Automobile Club de I'Quest (ACO).
"Racing is a cornerstone of Viper's illustrious history," said Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of Chrysler's SRT and motorsports. "Le Mans is a world stage. The GTS-R has enjoyed great success at Le Mans in the past and we're excited to start a new chapter of Viper racing at that historic venue."
Viper returned to American Le Mans Series competition in August and will compete in the new merged United SportsCar Racing series in 2014.
Beth Paretta, director of marketing and operations for the SRT brand and Chrysler's motorsports endeavors, and a contingent from SRT were at Le Mans last year to prepare for a return to the endurance classic, and an invitation was received from the ACO in February.
"The goal was to get to Le Mans but none of us thought that we'd get there our first year out, honestly," she said.
The V12-powered brute is popular in Europe, Paretta said.
"We went to do some research should we ever get back on the track at Le Mans," she said, "and were astounded by the interest shown by the amount of fans who lined up and waited to simply get a glimpse of our SRT Viper GTS-R showcar and take photos."
Riley Technologies of Mooresville, North Carolina, is a partner with SRT in the Viper's return to competition. The two cars competed in four ALMS races last year in preparation for the full 2013 season.
ALMS drivers Marc Goossens, Dominik Farnbacher, Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer will be joined by Tommy Kendall and Ryan Dalziel for Le Mans.
Edmunds says: Success at Le Mans would be a big step forward for Chrysler in the motorsports realm after the abrupt withdrawal from NASCAR racing last season.