Photo by John Thawley A new team and a familiar face is returning to the American Le Mans Series. Woodhouse Performance will make its Series debut at the Acura Sports Car Challenge on July 19-21 and will bring Dodge and its Viper brand back to the Series. The Mid-Ohio appearance will serve as an evaluation of the Viper Competition Coupe in the GT2 class.
The venture is a collaboration of efforts that combines the common curiosity of Dodge, KUMHO Tires and Woodhouse Performance to discover the capability of the Viper within the premium brand of motorsports. It will go head-to-head with other elite GT2 manufacturers such as Ferrari, Porsche and Panoz.
"We are always thrilled to add world-class teams and premium manufacturers to what is already the most diverse grid in all of motorsports," said Series President and CEO Scott Atherton. "Dodge and the Viper brand share a rich tradition and deep history in sports car racing and the American Le Mans Series, and we welcome them back with open arms. Woodhouse Performance has a solid record of success in other levels of competition and we are eager to see that carry over into their first efforts in the American Le Mans Series."
It is a venture that boasts many firsts. It will be the first time a Dodge Viper Competition Coupe has ever competed in the Series and the first appearance for Dodge since 2005. The factory Dodge Viper squad from Team ORECA won the Series' first two GTS championships in 1999 and 2000 with Olivier Beretta taking driver titles each year. Dodge also ranks fifth among Series manufacturers with 15 victories.
It will also be the first time Woodhouse Performance has entered into American Le Mans competition and the first time KUMHO Tires has appeared in the GT2 class.
Woodhouse Performance expects to be the vehicle to provide valuable information to Dodge Motorsports in order to help determine the competitiveness of the race-ready Dodge Viper that has been in existence for the last four years. Woodhouse Performance is exploring the American Le Mans Series as an alternative to World Challenge so that all Viper Competition Coupes have more than one choice in professional racing.
Cindi Lux, of Aloha, Oregon and Stan Wilson, of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., will co-pilot the No. 13 Dodge/KUMHO Tires Dodge Viper Competition Coupe for Woodhouse Performance at Mid-Ohio. Both are contract KUMHO drivers and were handpicked for the effort.
KUMHO has been involved in the American Le Mans Series for the past two years, competing in the LMP2 division. This season, they are involved in both LMP1 and LMP2 and posted their first win at Le Mans in June.
"Cindi and Stan have had a lot of success on our tires in SCCA competition," said Rudy Consolacion, KUMHO's Motorsports Manager. "And they've played a big role in the development of our DOT competition tires. We're eager to enter the fray of GT2 competition, and we hope to use this as a stepping stone to expand our American Le Mans Series effort in 2008."
Lux will be making her third career start in the American Le Mans Series at Mid-Ohio having raced to a top-five finish in the GT2 (then known as GT) class in the 2000 Petit Le Mans. Her first start in the Series came one year earlier in an all-female driver entry at the Petit Le Mans. This will be her first start with the Woodhouse Performance team.
"The Competition Coupe is a great car and very competitive in World Challenge trim but it will be interesting to see where it stacks up with all the GT2 fire-breathing machines," Lux continued. "We know that we have to understand what our goals are, and the big goal is to gain information for KUMHO, Dodge and Woodhouse Performance. We want to do well so we get the best information for them but where we finish is pretty irrelevant."
Wilson will be making his first start in the American Le Mans Series and with Woodhouse Performance. He has had the support of KUMHO Tires in his racing career for years, but has yet to have the opportunity to race their tire in a professional series. The American Le Mans Series venture with Woodhouse Performance is his first opportunity to do so.
"I am very happy to be a part of KUMHO Tire's first GT2 program in connection with Dodge and Woodhouse Performance," Wilson said. "Rudy Consolacion and I first spoke about putting together an entry in GT2 in the summer of 2006 while I was performing tire testing duties for KUMHO. It has been something that has taken time to develop, but with the help of Bob Woodhouse and his Woodhouse Performance team, I am thrilled to be co-driving with Cindi Lux, another KUMHO Tires sponsored driver and friend."
Wilson currently competes in the SPEED World Challenge Touring Car series and is leading the Rookie of the Year points battle, sitting 11th in the overall championship standings.
A rendering of the No. 13 Dodge/KUMHO Tires Dodge Viper Competition Coupe that will compete in the two-hour, 45-minute Acura Sports Car Challenge will be released shortly.
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Acura Sports Car Challenge, scheduled for 3:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 21 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The race will be broadcast live on XM Satellite Radio's Sports Nation Channel and American Le Mans Radio via americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring. CBS Sports will broadcast the race from 2 to 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 22.