No. 33 Dodge Viper GT3-R back home to Detroit this weekend

Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen looking for Viper home-turf success in Saturday’s Sports Car Classic on Belle Isle in Detroit.

No. 33 Dodge Viper GT3-R back home to Detroit this weekend
#33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R: Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen
#33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R: Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen
#33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R: Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen
#33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R: Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen
#33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R: Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen
#33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R: Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen
#33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R: Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen
#33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R: Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen
#33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R: Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen
#33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R: Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen
#33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R: Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Marc Miller
#33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R: Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Marc Miller
#33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R: Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Marc Miller
#33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R: Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Marc Miller

Detroit – ViperExchange.com and Riley Motorsports team will bring the Dodge Viper GT3-R back to its home turf of Detroit for the third time this weekend where Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen will co-drive the No. 33 ViperExchange.com/ Gas Monkey Garage Dodge Viper GT3-R in the Sports Car Classic at the Detroit Grand Prix on the Raceway at Belle Isle Park, June 3 – 4.

The Sports Car Classic 100-minute sprint race can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) this Saturday, June 4, at 12:30 p.m. EDT and is Round 4 of 10 for the GT Daytona (GTD) division in the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Keating is a race-winning driver in IMSA GTD competition who is also the principal of ViperExchange.com, the world’s largest Viper retailer, which is based in Tomball, Texas.

We are in a better position right now than we were last year,

Ben Keating

“Racing in Detroit is very special for our team,” Keating said. “Every single Viper is hand-built in Detroit and has been for over 20 years. Our engines are hand-built in Detroit, Dodge is based in Detroit and we will have lots of Viper fans there expecting big things from us. Therefore, this is a BIG weekend for us!”

Detroit is unique in that the 100-minute race length is the shortest of the season and comes on the only street course on the IMSA schedule.

“I think all street tracks are special because none of them were originally made for racing,” Bleekemolen said. “So, there are bumps you normally don't have and usually no runoffs. There are some concrete parts, which makes the Detroit track interesting as normally it is asphalt on most of the street tracks I go to at least.”

Keating and Bleekemolen co-drove the No. 33 Dodge Viper GT3-R each of the last two years in Detroit and showed solid pace in both races. Keating qualified a career-best second and raced as high as third in the early stages of last year’s race.

“Typically, a street course is tough to pass on,” Keating said. “There are huge penalties for any mistakes just because there are close concrete walls on both sides. Qualifying and pit stops are probably the two easiest ways to make up positions on a street course, and Detroit is no different. We had a good car there last year, but I made a small mistake and paid the price with a DNF (Did Not Finish). We’ve got to do better this year.”

Bleekemolen races on a variety of circuit types all around the world each season, including last weekend in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring on the 15-mile plus Nordschleife layout, but his choice for favorite type of race might surprise some.

“I love street races, they are my favorite,” Bleekemolen said. “You don't get room for mistakes and you have to build up the pace and confidence throughout the weekend. Detroit has made a great track layout on Belle Isle, and with all the automotive companies around there is always a lot going on. Many guests and spectators which is always nice.”

ViperExchange.com finished 10th in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and 12th in March’s 12 Hours of Sebring, rebounding from contact and mechanical issues, respectively, in both races.

A sixth-place finish one race ago at Laguna Seca was the No. 33’s best result of the season, but they are looking for more in Detroit. Another solid or season-best result Saturday would give ViperExchange.com some critical points in a GTD team and driver championship that will be just one race away from the halfway point after Motown.

“We are in a better position right now than we were last year,” Keating said. “In addition, we didn’t get many points at Detroit last year so I expect to be in an even better position after the race this year. We were definitely in the mix with an opportunity last year, so, I have to assume that we still have a chance to win the championship. We need to have some wins, we need to consistently finish in the top-five every race, and, we need some luck.”

The Belle Isle schedule begins with morning and afternoon practice sessions tomorrow, Friday, June 3, before qualifying that afternoon from 5:05 – 5:20 p.m. Race-day Saturday begins with at 30-minute warm-up at 8 a.m. with the featured 100-minute Sports Car Classic scheduled to go green that afternoon at 12:40 p.m.

Viper Exchange 

shares
comments
Pair of Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs set to take part in eight hours of testing at Le Mans

Previous article

Pair of Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs set to take part in eight hours of testing at Le Mans

Next article

Fittipaldi edges Goossens for Detroit pole

Fittipaldi edges Goossens for Detroit pole
Load comments

About this article

Series IMSA
Event Detroit
Location The Raceway on Belle Isle
Drivers Ben Keating
Teams Riley Motorsports
Why a Mazda IMSA Prototype title would bring bitter joy Prime

Why a Mazda IMSA Prototype title would bring bitter joy

Can Mazda win this year’s IMSA Prototype championship? Undoubtedly. But it will be the culmination of an achingly hard struggle, after which the brand has decided to quit. David Malsher-Lopez tells the story of a bizarre blend of heartache and positivity.

IMSA
Apr 6, 2021
The GTE dilemma that IMSA has created for the WEC Prime

The GTE dilemma that IMSA has created for the WEC

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s decision to scrap its GT Le Mans class for 2022 raises the question of whether the FIA World Endurance Championship should phase out GTE cars. But it's a much harder decision than it appears on the surface.

WEC
Feb 3, 2021
Nine things to watch at the 2021 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona Prime

Nine things to watch at the 2021 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona

After a 100-minute sprint race to whet the appetite, the 2021 IMSA SportsCar Championship gets underway properly this weekend. With plenty of significant changes during the winter, here are the key points you need to keep an eye on

IMSA
Jan 29, 2021
Why Magnussen is relishing a fresh start in sportscars Prime

Why Magnussen is relishing a fresh start in sportscars

Having gone over seven years without a race win through spells with McLaren, Renault and Haas, Kevin Magnussen's departure from Formula 1 for IMSA with big-hitters Chip Ganassi Racing could give him what he craves most - a chance of success

IMSA
Jan 29, 2021
Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights Prime

Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights

Oliver Gavin has stepped down from the full-time Corvette Racing line-up after a stellar career with the team spanning nearly 20 years. He looks back on a stint that encompassed, among other successes, five Le Mans 24 Hours victories.

Le Mans
Jan 28, 2021
How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends Prime

How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends

Victory at last year's Spa 24 Hours meant Nick Tandy had completed the unofficial sextuple crown of the world's six biggest endurance races, becoming the first Briton to do so. Ahead of his fresh start with Corvette Racing, he explains how he did it…

Le Mans
Jan 24, 2021
The 12 greatest Sebring 12 Hours ranked Prime

The 12 greatest Sebring 12 Hours ranked

The 2020 edition of the Florida sportscar classic is finally taking place this weekend, eight months after its traditional date in March. That meant there was plenty of time for Motorsport.com to pour over its previous 67 races and select the best.

IMSA
Nov 11, 2020
Tony Kanaan’s top 10 races – in his own words Prime

Tony Kanaan’s top 10 races – in his own words

The 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan probably hasn’t yet driven his final IndyCar race, but we still asked him for the 10 most significant races of his career. He explained his choices to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Sep 7, 2020