With ‘ring times back in the news thanks to a new feud between Dodge’s Viper ACR and Lexus’s LFA, GM took its forthcoming Camaro ZL1 to the Eifel Forest to record its own time. The best lap time of 7:41:27, according to Motor Trend, was set by lead development engineer Aaron Link (some outlets are reporting the time was actually set by GM NA President Mark Reuss himself), although Reuss does have some his own impressions to add, telling MT
“It’s power all the time, capability all the time, and the steering and tractability of the car is just phenomenal,” he told us. Reuss also told us that this Camaro easily (and often) hit speeds of 170 mph on the ‘Ring’s back straight, and that even from those speeds the ZL1 exhibited, “Some serious braking power.” Reuss added, “We never faded the brakes on it… It’s one of the easiest cars I’ve ever driven to drive fast and hard. Everybody’s going to have a good time with it.”
But is the ZL1’s time, as Reuss apparently told TrueCar, “the fastest lap time recorded by ANY production vehicle costing less than $75,000”?
As Bertel has pointed out, there are not yet any agreed-upon rules as to what makes a true “production car,” and the only real authority on ‘ring lap times, Wikipedia (which still doesn’t list the ZL1’s time), counts anything that’s “road legal” in the same category. But in Germany, anyway, “road-legal” and “production” are not the same thing, as demonstrated by the top time being set by a Radical SR8 LM that requires a not-wildly-production-like
45 minute start up procedure involving a laptop plugged into the ECU, 108 octane fuel, engine rebuilds every 30 hours, transmission inspections/rebuilds after every race, etc
And because the ZL1 that set this lap time was a pre-production validation model, there’s clearly some question as to how close to production-spec it was at the time the lap was set. All the more reason the Viper ACR’s hot-off-the-showroom-floor 7:12:13 is so impressive. But, with sales of production ZL1s set for sometime next year, there’s little doubt that GM couldn’t go back and make their ‘ring time statement with a dealer-ready version. After all, as Jack Baruth put it,
‘Ring times are like any other laptimes in the world: subject to weather, chance, and the constant grinding effort of development work. Doesn’t matter if you start with a “stock” car. You can adjust camber, you can crank the toe in back until you either set a record or kill your driver, you can mess around with tire temps, you can use your datalogger to stitch together an “ideal lap” and then go run that lap. Period. No magic. No special significance. It’s a racetrack. Nothing more. Nothing less.