A departure by one driver and the transition by another has led the factory SRT Viper GT Le Mans team to sign two new drivers to fill vacancies for most, if not all of the upcoming endurance races it has on its calendar.
Ryan Dalziel, who shared the No. 91 Viper GTS-R with Marc Goossens and Dominik Farnbacher, moved to the Extreme Speed Motorsports P2 team during the off-season and Tommy Kendall, who made his racing comeback with the team and drove the No. 93 Viper GTS-R with Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer last season, will stay within the SRT family and take on new roles outside of the cockpit.
In their place, 2012 IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, who drove for the team during its abbreviated introduction to the ALMS (LEFT), will make his return during most of the North American Endurance Championship rounds, and Rob Bell, who is known as one of the most talented GT drivers in the world, will complete the team’s revised roster.
“Having Tommy Kendall in our team was a win-win from a driving standpoint and also from his status as an elder statesman in racing,” SRT Motorsports marketing director Beth Paretta told RACER. “He was away from racing for 16 years, hopped right in and was right there with the speed, but when we moved him into a part-time role last year, it was tough for him and without a full-time gig to offer, we made the decision he would move over to a brand ambassador role for SRT.
“He’s amazing with our sponsors, amazing with our employees and with all of his knowledge, we very much see him like our Ron Fellowssomeone who can make the entire team better and groom our younger drivers in the sport and every other area. I think it’s a really good fit.”
Paretta would also like to have RHR and Bell represent the team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, but the uncertain nature of Bell’s availability, and RHR’s ability to take part in the June 1 test day the same day as the second IndyCar Series race at Detroit’s Belle Isle could complicate matters. RHR also has a conflict for the third NAEC round at Watkins Glen, held the same day of another IndyCar double-header in Houston.