Track Attack #2 … and 1200 mile impressions of the Viper TA

Bruce H.

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Two weeks ago I had just finished the 500 mile break-in before doing my first track day with the TA. At that time I was still affected by severe Shock and Awe, and not really that relaxed with the car yet. That track day was done in the rain where I found it handled well when smooth on the throttle, brakes and steering, and the steep handling learning curve has continued through this week on a dry track day.

As the shock effect of driving such an extroverted car slowly lessens, and I’m able to better focus on and explore handling and performance, I am continually in awe of it. I am truly blown away with this car’s excellent suitability for road use, which seems all the more incredible given its track prowess. I find I’m driving it everywhere. Yesterday I took a frequent route of rough roads that I had been avoiding when driving the Viper, and its suspension handled it brilliantly…despite being the most track focused suspension. The chassis is just so solid, and dampers effective, that there’s no shock, drama or feeling of being punished in any way. The TA’s compliant and good ride quality is definitely a welcome surprise.

The gearbox shift mechanism has loosened up nicely, the clutch is light and smooth, I still love the long 1st gear and tight spacing of the rest, brakes are confidence inspiring, and the loud pedal is just a riot to squeeze, blip or nail. Love the exhaust, the noise, the burbling, popping and rumble. Love that it is physically impossible to stop your hand from vibrating on the gear shift with the engine running.

The main driver controls are all well-positioned, with the gear shift, seat, adjustable steering wheel and pedals all being text-book ergonomics. I’m not at all aware of the pedal offset when driving it. Can’t remember the last steering column I’ve had with just one stalk to potentially be in the way, and I don’t miss a pair of paddles there either. I picked up a new pair of driving shoes that may be better for heel and toe downshifting, but I was a bit busy with Porsche and Ferrari at the track to focus on perfecting that technique. I’m just glad I have that sense of accomplishment to look forward to rather than the car’s ECU rev-matching it for me.

The Pirelli Corsa tires had been great on the track in the rain, and they were terrific in the dry this week as well. The manufacturer says not to use below 10 degrees Celsius, and I was hitting 140+ mph on them at just 11 degrees on a slightly damp track in the morning. It took a few laps to get enough heat into them in order to go full throttle coming out of the 3rd gear corner that leads on to the back straight, and you may be able to see a little water on that left apex in the beginning of the video below, but it became hooked enough with some heat. I have no idea what their ultimate grip is, and I’m working up to that slowly and carefully. I haven’t lost grip with them in the dry yet, and I doubt there will be any audible feedback from the tires as they reach their limits. The XKR was easy as its Dunlop tires would scream like ***** chickens from corner entry to exit as they approached their limits!

I really like the seat. It may be no good at all for some shapes and sizes but it fits me like a glove at 5’10” and 215 lbs…and I’ve never sat in a seat that I didn’t find lacking in some way. My XKR had 16 way adjustable seats and I still couldn’t find the perfect position. I needed two hands, arms, elbows, knees, and one foot and shoulder just to keep from sliding out from behind the wheel of the XKR and Supra on their leather seats, but I can tell you the ballistic nylon one in the TA model hold you very securely with no effort. I spent a day and a half on track before even trying the 6 point harness, and when I did I really wasn’t conscious of it holding my body more securely. Perhaps it would be more obvious once I push it harder on the track, but regardless it’s an important safety feature. I like the TeamTech harness, but the anchor eye bolts do interfere with fore/aft TA seat adjustment, and I needed to raise the seat first, then slide fore/aft, and then lower it again. When not in use the anti-submarine straps lay on the seat cushion with cam lock draped over the front of the cushion, lap belts laying on the floor behind the seat, and shoulder belts left threaded through the seat back with belts draped around the side and behind. They don’t interfere with the factory 3 point belts at all.

I very much like just about everything on this car, and I even like the things I’m not crazy about…like limited outward rear visibility through all 3 mirrors. The rear fender haunches are very tall and wide, and the side mirrors don’t stick out far or high enough to get a decent view of what’s behind you. In fact, I could lay down over 100 feet of Cor$a rubber stripes and never see an inch of it in any of the mirrors. I’d have to do a U- turn to go back and see it…if the road were wide enough as the Viper doesn’t have a tight turning circle. There’s really little in the way of compartments or space for sunglasses, maps, wallets, phones, coins, etc. And the car is low, as in 4” ground clearance to the lovely carbon $plitter$. They scrape on just about anything if you’re not careful. Then there’s that loud exhaust. But these are some of the things that make it an exotic, and I embrace each and every one of them. These are some of the things that keep it from appealing to everyone. Thank goodness the Viper has an exotic nature to prevent it from becoming as common as some other high performance cars, and it then not being as appealing to own. I like that it is one of the best kept secrets, and we perhaps can credit Motor Trend for misleading many.

The Gen V Viper really is the car I was waiting for someone to build…and I’m glad they did!

Here’s a video of this week’s track lapping day that I edited to keep it quite short. The beginning walk-around shows the licence plate still attached, and the end shot shows it removed. There was probably a dozen Ferrari there, and many were special track versions running slicks that were incredibly fast. Lots of big dollar mods on a variety of street and purpose built race cars…and one very well-driven ACR-X! The TA was dominating on the long back straight, but the quicker lap times will be found in the corners as I explore the limits of grip there. I used an Ojocam Pro Mini 801 dashcam attached to the windshield. Unfortunately I was unable to get the GPS info, including speed and G-forces, to display with the video. Top speed on the back straight was ~145 mph for reference. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB1LoSkkRBA

Bruce
 
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SnakeBitten

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Cool vid. Thanks for sharing...They had some fast racecars on track there. That ACR-X and red 458 shot by pretty fast as expected of full-on racers. Any idea which was faster around the track? Your TA looked and sounded great.:2tu:
 
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Bruce H.

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Cool vid. Thanks for sharing...They had some fast racecars on track there. That ACR-X and red 458 shot by pretty fast as expected of full-on racers. Any idea which was faster around the track? Your TA looked and sounded great.:2tu:

Thanks! I really couldn't say which would be faster, but they were both incredible in the corners. They launched onto the straights very hard, and that advantage multiplied all the way down the straight. When I had an opportunity to follow the 458 down the long back straight and into the next brake zone and sweeper I got the feeling we weren't that far off in power and braking. I had the extra weight of an instructor friend riding with me for the day to check out the car, and we both felt that I was barely scratching the surface of available cornering grip. I was running lap times 5-8 seconds slower than my usual Supra and MR2 times as I focused on the much more sensitive Viper reactions. I think I'll likely improve my times by that much the next time out...hopefully!!!

Btw, SRT will be competing on this track in the Tudor Series in July. It's an exciting track with a 100 foot drop through the double apex T2, which is about the same drop as Road Atlanta's T12 and Laguna Seca's drop for comparison.

Bruce
 

Free2go

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Man you are livin the dream! I'm no race car driver, but I would take those corners way more aggressively and accellerate a dash later in the apex....on stock tires. Excellent write up and very descriptive, particularly the "***** chicken" analogy.
 
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Bruce H.

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I forgot to address Randy Pobst's comment about the unnerving sensation of the rear moving around at high speeds. I feel it near the end of the back uphill straight in the video where I'm doing 140+ mph. There's a kink (T7), and then a slight throttle lift as you crest the hill before a brief but firm brake zone, followed by the long right hand sweeping T8. The rear does do a little wiggle thing, particularly where you lift and still have a little steering dialed in coming out of the kink, and then again when you squeeze on the brake firmly. Randy said you just have to trust the car, and that's exactly right. I never had a feeling that it was going to lose grip, and I think if the car had that propensity it would have done it a couple of weeks ago in the rain at that same spot.

Bruce
 
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Bruce H.

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Thanks guys

Nice video. Who was that haulin ***** in the white Gen 4 ACR ?

That's Bruce D. from the Quebec owner's group. I expect a lot more close-up footage of me following him the next time...hopefully!

Great shot!! I know we are prejudiced but the black TA is the best looking Viper ever made.

I haven't decided yet, but I've got it narrowed down to orange, black or white ;) But at this point it appears like black may be the fastest!

Great info and thanks for sharing the video.

Got a video of a scorching personal best lap time from another Mosport event yesterday if I can figure out how to do it again. It's all about seat time. Doing another event tomorrow at a different track with a bunch of 911 GT3's that are sure to keep me busy!
 

SnakeBitten

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Got a video of a scorching personal best lap time from another Mosport event yesterday if I can figure out how to do it again. It's all about seat time. Doing another event tomorrow at a different track with a bunch of 911 GT3's that are sure to keep me busy!

W8ing for vid. Really interested in what the GT3 guys think of the TA's taillights that is if you feel comfortable enough yet to push the beast for a good lap time. Above all of course, be safe. I was anxiously waiting to see the TA on tracks vs cars like these as it seems the mags are not really doing comparo's on track with the TA vs car x, at least not yet. I really wish Dodge did with the TA what they did with the ACR in running great times at tracks around the country of course with it not being the swan song for the TA however.
 

Boxer12

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Bruce, I don't know when the NARRA event is at Mosport, but I would sign up early for Tommy Archer or one of the other regular Viper instructors/Pro Racers to give you a few instruction laps. Your times will come down much faster with a few laps in the car at 10/10's so you can get a feel for it. As for the twitchy rear end, I would say a good alignment, corner balance and shock adjustment should get that out of the car. Reserve a spot with Archer Racing to do the setup when they are there for the NARRA event. Just my 2c.
 
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Bruce H.

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W8ing for vid.

Posted in new thread covering that event

Bruce, I don't know when the NARRA event is at Mosport, but I would sign up early for Tommy Archer or one of the other regular Viper instructors/Pro Racers to give you a few instruction laps. Your times will come down much faster with a few laps in the car at 10/10's so you can get a feel for it. As for the twitchy rear end, I would say a good alignment, corner balance and shock adjustment should get that out of the car. Reserve a spot with Archer Racing to do the setup when they are there for the NARRA event. Just my 2c.

I've contacted NARRA and waiting for response, but I wouldn't let anyone drive my car at 10/10ths. The best excuse I've heard a pro driver give for wrecking someone elses car while demonstrating his skill was.."It had grip...and then it didn't". No thanks. The Gen V don't have ride height adjustment for corner balancing, and shock adjustment is limited to Street and Race modes.

When you have time come to Mont-Tremblant to test your car !

Done, see new thread!
 
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