SRT’s Viper TA arrives to sink fangs into the Corvette ZR1

Alex Lloyd

When Motor Trend performed a shootout between the new SRT Viper and the out-of-production Corvette ZR1, naturally, the pressure was on the Viper. After all, Chevy had the new Corvette Stingray up its sleeve, making a healthy excuse should the Viper be faster. SRT, on the other hand, had no such fall back; when the ZR1 spanked the Viper by two seconds around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, SRT chief Ralph Gilles knew something had to be done: Enter the SRT Viper TA — the snake that can finally outrun the ‘Vette.

Rumor has it, the Viper TA (for Time Attack) was in the works all along. It was, without question, pushed into production at record pace, however, in an effort to right the wrongs from last December; the car was in Motor Trend’s hands for a retest just nine weeks after their original loss.

The Viper TA is a straight up track machine that just so happens to be road legal: it has no radio or leather seats. In fact, the Viper TA has no options whatsoever. It is a car, Ralph Gilles claims, “for the dedicated track enthusiast, who still wants to drive to the track and take their hobby to the next level.”

The Viper TA boasts no additional power, either (it’s not like it needs more), sticking with the 640 hp, 8.4 liter V-10. The TA is all about optimizing the Viper’s inner package for on-track performance, and that starts with the suspension. Street mode has been deleted, replaced by Rough track mode (very stiff) and a Smooth track mode (very very stiff). The dampers, springs and stabilizer bars have all been retuned, too.

The standard aluminum X-brace, situated above the engine, is replaced by a lighter carbon-fiber brace. The larger Brembo brakes increase thermal capacity while dissipating heat more effectively. An exterior aerodynamic package comes adorned, featuring a carbon-fiber front splitter and rear spoiler that generates 300 lbs. of downforce at 150 mph. Additionally, all the badges and logos on the Viper TA are decals in an effort to save further weight.

Despite this, the Viper TA is heavier than the standard Viper SRT with the Track Pack. In fact, it adds around 50 lbs. (est. 3,348 lbs. versus 3,297). That’s a lot, and somewhat surprising, but the weight gain derives from the damptronic suspension (20 lbs.), solid sway bars (14 lbs.), heavier brake rotors (8-10 lbs.) and aero package (8 lbs.).

For 2013, just 33 Viper TAs will be produced, and only painted in bright orange; starting in 2014, you can get one in black or white. Expect the price to be around $120,000, which will slot in between the base SRT model and the more luxurious Viper GTS.

The big question, of course, is what lap time the Viper TA managed versus the ZR1? It did it in 1:33.62, eight hundredths of a second faster than the ZR1. That seemingly negligible amount of time is everything, as it means the Viper now claims back the production car lap record at one California track over the Corvette. I’m sure it ate a few pennies out of SRT’s development budget, but with the seventh-generation Vette now revealed, the Viper has to be number one. The question of how long the new record will last should be answered in a matter of months.