Friday, June 27, 2008

ZR1 Takes the Lead on the 'Ring

Car enthusiasts in the readership may know that the a car's elapsed time for one lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife* has become a frequently referenced measure of it's performance potential. Why this time is just a scaler, it depends on many aspects of the vehicle's performance: acceleration, top spead, cornering, and so on. A 'Ring time certainly better characterizes than a simple 0-to-60 time, quarter-mile time, or top speed.

Not too long ago, the Corvette Chief Engineer claimed that the Corvette ZR1, which I like to call the uber-Vette, would be able to beat any production** car's time around the 'Ring. Around that same time, the Nissan GT-R came out and ran a 7:29 on stock tires. Now GM is reporting that the ZR1 ran a 7:26 on stock tires this morning, when driven by a race-driver-turned-engineer.

Having recently had the pleasure of being thrown around the interior of a fifth-generation Corvette Z06 (405 horsepower at the crank) on a track, I have a hard time imagining going more than 200 hp faster than that. I'm willing to wager it'd be fun, though.

I'm curious to see how this competition plays out. I'm sure we'll see slightly faster times from both GM and Nissan in the near future. Also, the GT-R V-Spec is on it's way, with slightly more power and slightly less weight. Meanwhile, Honda's CEO has instructed the folks developing the Honda/Acura NSX replacement that he wants the car to beat the GT-R's time. The prototype is already in the ballpark at 7:37. Additionally, the Lexus LF-A has been unofficially timed, by bystanders, at 7:24. This should be an interesting battle to watch.

Update: GM has released a video of the ZR1's attack on the Nürburgring.

* These time are usually measured with a rolling start, and from "bridge to gantry."

**I should point out that several so-called production cars have actually run much faster times than those listed here, but those are low-volume, barely road-legal cars, so I don't think their times count in this particular comparison.

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