By Russ Ruedisueli, Head of SRT and Motorsports Engineering
We find that SRT Viper owners fall into two different groups; one consists of those who just want to own and drive a supercar, the other ” about 25 percent of them ” is the sort who want that but also want to drive their car hard on track. And keeping that second group happy is a frequent conversation topic when we’re bench-racing back at SRT offices, because we get where they’re coming from: We’re a similar breed ourselves! And that truly has been the inspiration and impetus for the Viper TA [Time Attack] special edition package.
But we decided to offer quite a limited number because we also discovered that the owners who want a TA car also treasure exclusivity, so we’re going to produce 93 in orange, 33 in white and 33 in black.
We listen to our customers’ feedback, so there are aspects of this car that owe something to the ACR/ACR-X of previous-generations of Viper, in terms of ever-improving brake performance, the cross-brace under the hood ” which the ?standard? SRT and GTS cars have in aluminum, but in the TA it’s made out of carbon fiber ” and some of the shock and spring work too?
So let’s talk specifics. For the Viper TA, we upgraded the springs by 20 percent, going from 200 to 240lb springs in the front, and from 500 to 600lb springs in the back. We upgraded the swaybars, too, which are hollow on the SRT and GTS models but with the TA package they are solid, to add some roll stiffness ” 35 percent in the front, 30 percent in the back. Between the springs and the bars, it really does add more sharpness to the car on track. Of course we had to tweak the shocks to compensate for that.
The basis for the car is the SRT model, which is the lighter of the two versions currently available, because it’s a more back-to-basics car, like the SRT ?Core? models of the Dodge Challenger and Chrysler 300and Charger Super Bee.. It doesn’t have all the luxury items available in the Viper GTS. However, the SRT model doesn’t normally have the Pirelli P Zero Corsas on it, and nor does it have the two-mode suspension, with adjustable shock valving, that the GTS model has. But we decided two-mode would be appreciated on the TA model because most ” if not all “owners will drive it to the track. (A Viper TA is no trailer queen!) So, with road surfaces generally inferior to track surfaces, being able to soften the suspension for road use just makes the car that bit more user-friendly. And we’ve altered the wheel camber on the Viper TA, to help the Pirellis last longer in hard track use. It makes the car a little more trough-sensitive on the road, but really helps the tires survive.
Another big change hardware-wise is the type of brake rotors we use. We went for a two-piece Brembo unit, and although we couldn’t go any bigger in diameter because of the size of the wheel, we moved down around the annulus of the rotor and expanded the swept area. This new brake system helps to optimize heat dissipation for improved extreme use on the track.
We left the gearing the same because we’re pretty happy with how the 8.4-liter V10’s flexibility but also its eagerness to rev work well on track. The 640 horsepower and 600lb-ft of torque are easily accessible. But we do have an aero package that is optional on the SRT and GTS models but which we’ve made standard on the TA. The two splitters on the front, made out of carbon fiber, have replaceable skid pads underneath, because we didn’t want people dragging the splitters off on their driveways or on the curbs of a corner on track. The splitters and the rear spoiler combined produce 278lbs of downforce at 150mph and at v-max its 460lbs.
The president and CEO of SRT, Ralph Gilles, is proud of how much the Viper’s intended use for competition influenced the road car, in terms of its shape and layout obviously, but also the detail work regarding where to put air ducts and splitters etc. But of course it works back the other way as well; like the saying goes, competition improves the breed. Obviously we’re in constant contact with Bill Riley, who builds our GT3 cars and also our cars for the American Le Mans Series (now the United SportsCar Championship) and the lessons he’s learned, particularly on brake setups, are invaluable to us when building a track-oriented version of a road car.
But the other opinions that matter are those of our customers, the ones putting these cars on track on race weekends. I’ve worked at SRT for a long time in a lot of different groups, and it’s amazing the communication we have with our customers. Those who purchase SRT vehicles, in particular the Viper, are very good at coming forward with thoughts and observations, particularly when we have our once-a-month internet discussions. As a team at SRT we’re tight and in constant dialogue with each other but also with those who buy our products. And one of the beauties of having a low-production car like the Viper TA is that we can really dedicate ourselves to answering individual questions.
So we’re very proud of the Viper TA, because it will serve as your on-road supercar, but it can also fulfill your demands on a closed course if you’re a track rat like most of us!
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