For this Tips and Track Tweaks, we have some insider information from a contributor.
The 2008-2010 Viper provides an extremely capable track platform even in a factory stock configuration. This may be obvious given the numerous production car lap records set by the ACR variant, but even the standard SRT-10 models offer ample power, great balance and loads of mechanical grip. Often overlooked by those who may not be as familiar with a track environment, the large displacement, under stressed V10 breezes through 30-minute sessions without fault even in the heat of summer – a feat not often accomplished by stock production cars. The manual transmission and lack of traction/stability control require more input from the driver but, provide the reward of knowing the lap time is more a result of your work rather than that of a computer. I’ve spent the last couple years tracking my 2008 ACR and here are a few insights I noticed which others may find useful too.
Like every car seeing track time, good preparation is required; fresh, high-quality fluids, brake pads with good thickness, and tires which not only have sufficient tread but are not more than a few years old. A low mileage Gen IV Viper could still be sitting on its original tires and while they may still look great, a decade of aging is anything but ideal for a safe day at the track. If you expect to be on track with your Viper regularly, consider installing an uprated brake pad better suited to dealing with elevated track temperatures. Combine this with a high-performance DOT 4 brake fluid, freshly bled, and you’ll be rewarded with a firm and confidence inspiring brake pedal for the entire duration of a track session. I’ve found Castrol SRF React fluid combined with various pad compounds from G-LOC offer noticeable improvements in pedal feel and braking performance across a 30-minute session.
Merging out of pit lane and onto the race track, it’s important to take a few laps to build heat in the tires and brakes. Focus on smooth inputs with both your hands and feet. The Viper provides a massive footprint, but until the tires are up to temperature it’s still very possible to spin the car without the benefit of TC/SC to correct your mistake. Once everything is up to temperature, consider taking advantage of a classic Viper strength – the massive torque offered by the V10. With so much power available at any engine speed, often you can run corners in a higher gear than would be required in the average car. This not only lowers driver workload by reducing the number of shifts across a lap, but also noticeably reduces engine and transmission fluid temperatures.
I’ve found the Viper to be quite neutral in terms of its handling balance on track. Removing the hood vent inserts can offer additional grip on the front end by evacuating air under the hood with the added benefit of increased cooling capacity. Numerous variables affect tire pressures obviously but thus far I’ve had success targeting hot pressures in the range of 31-33 psi across both types of tires I’ve tried. If you have an ACR model, the setups offered in the supplemental owner’s manual have provided a great starting point for fun and speed on the track. Unless you’re a particularly quick and experienced driver, resist the urge to tip the rear wing forward. While it will result in more overall downforce, it will shift the aero balance further rearward and without a physical change to the front end, the car will most likely push in high-speed corners.
Overall the Viper has provided a trouble free and fun experience for me on track. Employing the points mentioned previously, I’ve found through lab analysis that engine oil can safely be run at least 10 hours on the track and transmission/differential fluid at double that interval before service is required. Keep an eye on the inboard emergency brake pads as they tend to drag on the rotor at all times and can wear quickly with track use. With a good set of track brake pads and DOT slicks, you may be surprised at the level of machinery a 10-year-old Viper can run with.