Oreca Viper GTS-R GT1
Year of build 2000
Team Carsport Holland was owned by Motorpsort Legend Toine Hezemans
- FIA GT1 with Carsport Holland 2000-2002
- Following Racing History in FIA GT – 5 Wins; 8 Second place finishes; 2 Third place finishes; 15 Races finished on podium; 5 Pole positions
- One of the fastest FIA GT cars in 2000-2002.
The idea to develop a modern-day Cobra-like sports car was first floated in late 1988 at Chrysler’s Advanced Design Studios. Within months, a full-scale clay mock-up was presented to Chrysler president Bob Lutz by styling boss, Tom Gale. The car then appeared as a concept at the North American International Auto Show (Detroit) in 1989 and public reaction was so enthusiastic, that chief engineer Roy Sjoberg was directed to develop it as a standard production vehicle.
The Viper project engineer was Roy Sjoberg and, together with engineer Dick Winkles, they assembled ‘Team Viper’ in early 1989, comprising 85 hand-picked specialists. Lamborghini, at the time a Chrysler subsidiary, cast a prototype V10 aluminium block in May ‘89.
Development proceeded apace, and the production body was ready in the fall of that year and a prototype chassis was already tested in December. Launch approval was given by
Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca (of Ford Mustang fame) in May 1990, and in November 1991, the Viper was released for review to the media with the first dealer shipments commencing in January 1992.
In May 1991 Carroll Shelby drove a pre-production pace car ahead of the start for the ‘91 Indianapolis 500 race, appropriate perhaps in that Shelby, the father of the Cobra, was called upon to drive it. Design cues from the legendary, bare-knuckle Cobra Daytona, penned by Pete Brock, are evident in the Viper’s muscular design and aggressive styling.
The first factory built racing version, the Chrysler Viper GTS-R, was introduced in 1996. The cars were constructed by Chrysler themselves, and in Europe by Reynard Motorsport and Oreca. In total, 57 Viper GTS-Rs were built, the chassis being fabricated by Reynard in the UK with Oreca doing the assembly and race preparation in France.
Although the Viper GTS-R finished tenth overall on its Le Mans debut in 1996, the car’s first win in the GT2 class came in 1998, marking the first GT class win for an American made car since the Shelby Daytona Coupe’s win in 1964. The ’96 Le Mans race saw no fewer than four Vipers entered of which only one failed to finish. The following year in 1997, two Vipers finished in fifth and sixth places in class. No fewer than five Vipers were back to do battle in ’98, this time coming home in eleventh, thirteenth, nineteenth and twenty-first places, with one DNF. For the last Le Mans 24 Hour race of the decade, Vipers occupied eight places on the starting grid, with the top finisher crossing the line in tenth place. All of this racing exposure at the highest level brought vast experience to the company, and enabled the Viper to be continually developed throughout this period. In all, the Viper notched up three class wins at Le Mans, another three victories at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, and two 24-hour victories at Spa.