When a McLaren 720S takes on a fifth-gen Dodge Viper with twin-turbos, you know it’s going to be a good race.
Although probably for reasons strictly other than who will make it to the finish line first.
The last time we saw a Viper with this much power its engine blew up. The 8.4-L naturally aspirated V10 had been given a set of turbochargers that boosted horsepower from 650 to somewhere north of 1,250. That’s a little more than the cylinder rods could take, and so the whole thing just sort of exploded.
That owner recommended to all other Viper owners that they stay under 1,200 hp to keep them from suffering the same fate. So that’s what this sensible Viper owner did with his own ride, only pushing his twin Precision 6.62 Turbos to 8 PSI to prevent them from tearing the engine in twain.
When combined with E85 fuel, that’s still 980 rear-wheel horsepower, which is a lot. Too much, in fact, especially for a car that doesn’t come equipped with launch control.
The McLaren, meanwhile, comes with all the tuning and fancy engineering that the British carmaker can muster. Power is just 710 horses and 568 lb-ft, but it’s been meticulously designed to put each and every one of those ponies to work and not have them spin off into the sunset.
Both cars are RWD, but the McLaren has a 7-speed dual-clutch while the Viper has a 6-speed manual. You’ll see that the driver struggles a bit to get the overpowered Viper to switch gears--likely because he’s rightly concerned about tearing his clutch in half with almost double the power it’s been rated to handle.
As you can see in the first two races, the Viper struggles to find traction on what is essentially dry tarmac. If this were a prepared drag strip we might have a different story, but this Viper just can’t put all those ponies into play. On the second run, the driver just gives up to avoid having an expensive crash.
Things are different on the rolling race: now the Viper can put its power down and take care of the 720S without much difficulty, although you can still see the Viper shudder with every gear swap.
Let this be a lesson: power isn’t everything.