Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Its official - SRT will not be going to Le Mans this year, is this connected to car sales or ?
Steven Cole Smith who's been writing about the ALMS until last year, has been reporting on the combined Tudor series. Last week he reported that it was possible for the SRT team not going to Le Mans for the 24 hr race.
Well it, its true they won't going. Of course Ralph Giles of SRT won't blame on poor Viper sales.
Speaking of Autoline Detroit, Ralph will be on Autoline Afterhours at 3pm PST or 6pm EST, I think that's 22:00 GMT but don't quote me on that. I doubt you'll get any straight answers but if you want to see if you can get a decent excuse out of him, tune-in on Thurs.
As a long-time Viper fan, sure this is disappointing but not unexpected. After all, Audi, Porsche and Toyota's LMP programs are run out of the engineer budgets. The additional money for racing comes out of increased engineering budgets, not from the adveristing size of the business like it with much of Ford's, GM and Chrysler-Fiat's operations.
If sales are poor, its best to claw back and focus on beating Corvette at home. I guess that's a decent PR answer, but Vipers are popular with fans in Europe, it would be just as beneficial to race there as it would here.
I don't know if there is much they can do about sales actually. The Viper is six-digit sport-car while if restraint is used on the Corvette's option sheet, you can get a new C7 for about $60K out the door. Performance is about equal between them -
That's the main problem, why pay more for equal performance? Americans really love a value and usually see no point in spending more when they don't have too. Especially when there's nothing overly special about the Viper other than its more rewarding to control all that power and its still a bit rough at the limit.
SRT is going to have to beat the standard Stingray into the ground to justify the higher cost or bring the cost down without making the car harder to control or reducing creature comforts.
This is a tough task and I wish them well, because of sales don't pick up, there won't be much justification for a halo car in this weak economic climate.