Chrysler 300C SRT8 a hot pace car

Herald Sun ·

11 October 2011

Chrysler 300C SRT8 a hot pace car

The souped-up version that will pace the Iveco Australian MotoGP field this weekend even managed to blow its own lights out during a test run at Calder Park. The roof-mounted light pack couldn't cope with 160km/h and parted company with the big V8 on its first flying lap.

A few "technical adjustments" and it should be ready for more serious duty keeping Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo in line on Sunday.

The Chrysler Group is the official supplier of vehicles for the Phillip Island event and will have 16 cars on duty - six SRT8s, three Jeep Grand Voyagers, six Grand Cherokees and a Wrangler. The regular SRT8 doesn't need much motivation - its 6.1 litre V8 produces 317kW and 569Nm.

The two course cars, though, have been "Mopar-vated", with the Chrysler Group's performance arm catalogue raided to fit more than $7000 in upgrades. The kit includes a Mopar exhaust, cold-air intake, coil overs and front sway bar.

Jeep spokesman Dean Bonthorne says the upgrades give the course cars the handling and the sound to head the MotoGP field. "A 300C sounds pretty good anyway but the Mopar exhaust really makes it bark. It's a must-have for the SRT8," he says.

A back-to-back run in a regular car and the tricked-up version around Calder Park shows the Mopar model hangs on like a tired two-year-old. It turns in to corners at speeds the standard SRT8 wanted to go straight ahead for and then copes with more throttle coming through the corner.

Power isn't hugely up on the standard car but there's enough difference to steadily gain ground on the straights. Turn the traction control off on either model, though, and it doesn't take much effort for the torque to wring the traction out the tyres.

MOPAR MOJO

The Mopar aftermarket parts sales are huge in the US and have a small but staunch group of supporters Down Under, especially those who import North American vehicles. Items range from interior trim upgrades and weathershields to specialist kits for drag and off-road racing.

Chrysler's motorport involvement is limited to Greg Crick driving a Dodge Viper in the Australian GT Championship and Lee Bektash in the Team Mopar drag racer. Bektash watched bemused as the SRT8 ran around Calder Park, then offered some advice on how to experience the ultimate in Mopar-enhanced speed.

"There's nothing like this, mate," he says, patting his carbon-fibre and alloy Dodge Avenger pro stock racer. "Zero to 100(km/h) in 0.8 (second), I'll change gears five times the first 4.3 seconds of the (quarter-mile) run and we're pulling more than 300 (km/h) at the end. I don't care what else you do - you can't beat that."

Bektash set a 7.03 second pass at this year's Winternationals in Queensland.

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Published 11 October 2011