THE GREATEST GT CARS
PORSCHE 911 GT3-R
PUNCHING ABOVE ITS WEIGHT
DODGE VIPER GTS-R
Porsche might have been out of top-flight
sports car racing during the noughties, but
it was still notching up outright victories in
major enduros. That was thanks to the
996-shape 911 GT3-R and its derivatives.
And a little bit of good fortune, of course.
The GT3-R, which evolved into the RS
and the RSR, took two against-the-odds
triumphs in 2003, first in January’s Rolex
24 at Daytona and then in the Spa 24
Hours seven months later. Neither could
have been predicted, but they did owe
something to the inherent traits of the
benchmark GT2 racer of its time:
reliability and user-friendliness.
This 911 was introduced for a new
class, initially known as GT, instigated by
the ACO at Le Mans in 1999. The FIA
adopted it the following year, coming up
with N-GT as a name. The successes for
the GT3-R came immediately.
It had to wait for the big ones, however.
Chrysler and its Dodge brand had big
aspirations for the race version of its V10
truck-engined Viper muscle car. Inspired
by McLaren’s outright victory at Le Mans
in ’ 95 (see page 50), the Viper GTS-R was
entered in the GT1 class with an eye on
the big prize when it first pitched up at
the Circuit de la Sarthe in 1996. But
things had moved on and the GT-R was
re-homologated as a GT2 for ’ 97, going
on to have a phenomenal career.
The Viper was developed in-house at the
same “skunk works” that conceived the road
car. Partnerships were forged in Europe with
Reynard for aerodynamic input and ORECA
for its credentials as a race team. The
French organization would subsequently
mastermind the success of the Viper both
on the track and in the marketplace.
The Viper won everything it should
have. It took the class crown at Le Mans
three times, claimed multiple titles in the
FIA GT Championship and the American
Le Mans Series, and was still winning the
Nurburgring 24 Hours in its dotage. And
then it won something it shouldn’t have:
the 2000 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Overall!
Factory input in the program ended in
2001, but privateer teams were still
winning with Vipers in various national
GT series until the middle of the decade.
The Racers Group would triumph at
Daytona in the first year of the Daytona
Prototypes by doggedly outlasting them.
The German Freisinger team then came
through a wet race at Spa to beat GT1
cars such as the Dodge Viper and the
Ferrari 550 Maranello.
As the new-for-2003 Daytona Protypes
wilted in Daytona, the 911 GT3-R of The
Racers Group just kept on going.
ORECA concentrated on North America in 2000, taking 10 of 12
GTS class victories in ALMS and winning the Rolex 24 outright.
FANGS A LOT!
The ORECA Viper
squad’s victory in the
2000 Rolex 24 at
Daytona came after a
race-long battle with
the factory Corvettes.
It became a fight for
the overall lead after
the faster prototypes
ran into trouble.
GOING THE DISTANCE
Michael Schrom and The Racers Group team
boss Kevin Buckler (ABOVE) were joined by
Porsche factory drivers Jorg Bergmeister and
Timo Bernhard for their 2003 Rolex 24 win.