The factory-backed SRT Vipers aren't going to the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year and it's all our fault.
As Sportscar365 reports, multiple French sources claim that ChryslerCo is pulling its Vipers from the only 24 hour race that matters other than the one at the Nurburgring.
Why? The answer is obvious.
The Viper made its return to the twice-around-the-clock French endurance classic last year, as the first year of a planned multi-year program.
However, lower-than-expected sales of the V10-powered sports car recently forced the temporary closure of its production plant in Detroit, likely prompting a tightened budget on its motorsports programs.
Ouch. We've covered this before, Chrysler has hit the Viper's Detroit factory with layoffs and slowdowns due to disappointing sales. This is the last factory in Detroit building complete cars, which is sad. The Viper is also the only big-engined American sports car that was supposed to race at Le Mans other than the Chevy Corvette, which is additionally sad.
A source told Autoweek that the two things are unrelated:
When asked Monday evening by Autoweek if skipping Le Mans is a result of low Viper road-car sales and the recent shutdown at Detroit's Conner Ave. Plant where the cars are built, an SRT source said, "No, motorsports and product strategy are two separate business functions."
That may be true, but a thriving Viper would let SRT get away with whatever cost or complexity is associated with going to Le Mans (both great, of course).
Basically, buy more Vipers and get Detroit building cars again, and also racing them against Europe's finest on their home turf. At that point they're basically throwing in the mad V10 sports car for free.
(Hat tip to Fred!)
Photo Credit: Chrysler/National Lampoon