On this day 20 years ago, Viper Team ORECA GTS-R chassis C21 became the first American series-production based car to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona OVERALL! Throughout the race the quicker and far more technologically advanced Prototype class racers experienced difficulties and slowed. The GTO class Viper, driven by Olivier Beretta, Karl Wendlinger and Dominique Dupuy, sailed into the overall lead with a few hours remaining as the last Prototype faltered. They would cover 60 of the 723 total laps from the point position with a factory backed Corvette C5-R in close pursuit. After 2,573.9 miles in 24 hours at an average speed of more than 107 mph, the margin of victory was just under 31 seconds - the closest in Daytona 24 history at the time! From a starting field of 79 cars, other GTS-Rs drove home the point by finishing in 3rd (C22), 5th (C27), 6th (C6), and 7th (C23) positions not in class, but overall. Today, C21 resides in FCA’s collection in nearly the same condition as it did on February 6, 2000 when it rolled into victory lane.
While the win at Daytona was certainly the pinnacle of C21’s short career, it captured other significant victories which should not be overlooked. David Donohue and Olivier Beretta piloted the car to Viper’s first win in the American Le Mans Series at Mosport in 1999. They followed this up with ALMS wins at Sears Point and Portland before Beretta was joined by Karl Wendlinger and Marc Duez at the now legendary Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. There C21 led a GTS-R podium sweep of the 10 hour event! A final ALMS win at Laguna Seca secured the GTS class championship for Viper. Of the 10 races that C21 was known to have competed in, 6 wins were secured along with 3 runner up finishes. The lone blemish unfortunately came at Le Mans in 1999 when the car appeared as #53 on the factory team but failed to finish the race. An incredible record nonetheless for what arguably could be the most coveted GTS-R produced. Photo courtesy of Kurt Wadsworth.
*text copied from Shawn Romig from the facebook page Viper GTS-R - Hisstory collected