By on May 21, 2012

If you’re depressed about the current state of your Laguna Seca laptimes, don’t read any further: Marc Gene has set a new “unofficial” record for the iconic hillside track. How does his time compare to that of mere mortals and/or members of the TTAC crew?

Gene’s flying lap of 1:05.78 in a 2003 Ferrari F1 car narrowly beats Sebastian Bourdais’ 1:05.88 effort, set in a Panoz DP1 five years ago. Laguna Seca is far too tight and narrow to even consider the idea of holding a modern F1 race there, so those of us who follow the sport will have to settle the 2003 Ferrari v. 2012 Williams argument at our garage benches somewhere.

How’s that compare to real cars? Well, during the Skip Barber Media Challenge the best times for our lightly-modified Miatas were in the high 1:51 range. According to video data evaluated after the fact, your humble author soft-pedaled a Boss 302 Laguna Seca edition around the track in 1:43.1. Ford claims to have snuck that same car just under the 1:40 mark in private testing. Dodge’s Viper “1:33 Edition” ACR is supposedly the fastest dead-stock car money can buy around the course, running a — you guessed it! — 1:33. Take away the license plates, and you will find that the Audi R10 is the fastest closed-wheel car to run the course, recording a low 1:08.

If you want to experience Laguna Seca yourself, but you don’t have any of the above machinery and you aren’t keen on the idea of rolling your Prius down the Corkscrew, one great alternative is to try the Twlight Rides. Ten bucks a head, and from what I’ve heard, most people feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth on about the third lap!

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17 Comments on “Laguna Seca In A Minute And Five...”


  • avatar

    I was imagining an Audi R10 as the V10-engined R8, then figured out that it was the Le Mans-winning R10 you were talking about. Awesome comparison between the insanely gas-powered F1 car and the diesel R10!

    This is a great track to watch cars and motorcycles, but when it comes to hot laps, I much prefer Sears Point. IMO, it’s a far more satisfying track to drive.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    I was hoping to see a video from the helmetcam.

  • avatar
    racingmaniac

    The Ferrari did not split in half this time?

    Random question, how fast was the Toyota F1 car driven by Timo Glock did when he did the demo laps there for the Historic race?

    • 0 avatar
      Spike_in_Brisbane

      I think you’ll find that was Ricardo Zonta and the time was 1:6.6. I was there to meet Black Jack Brabham and see the Coopers and I was amazed at the much lower level of security around the F1 car than at an F1 event. The lap was truly awesome to watch and hear.

      • 0 avatar
        racingmaniac

        My mistake, Toyota has had a few guys rolled through their shop in their short time in F1…What tire were they using do you remember, or for that matter, what tire did this Ferrari run use?

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Note the absence of grooved tires, as per the 2003 F-1 regulations. It is nice to see this particular vintage of car out on the track again, though.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    3.5 liter V12?

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      nope this was the 3.0 liter V-10. The 3.5 V-12 went out of use in the mid 90s (I wanna say 95 was its final year). After that, the rules mandated the 3 liter V10 until switching to the 2.4 V8 in 2006. At its peak, the V10s were making more power than the old 3.5’s. I saw numbers ranging from 900-1000 hp quoted in 2004-2005.

      I know Laguna is a short track but I’m surprised it couldn’t do better against a spec Champ Car that was heavier with less downforce and had less horsepower. Then again, was that lap time turned in on a race weekend? perhaps Ferrari didn’t pull out all the stops to make this time as quick as it could be, or maybe Marc Gene just isn’t Sebastian Bourdais.

      Couple more numbers to throw out there:

      pole time for this years ALMS race: 1:13.573 Honda HPD ARX-03a LMP1 class
      pole time for the GT class in this years ALMS race: 1:22.229 Aston Martin V8 Vantage
      GT racecar record: 1:19.291 2008 Corvette C6-R GT1 class

      • 0 avatar
        jaje

        How are we to assume he was really pushing the car? We are comparing race pace from classes that actually race the track to a time set during essentially a lapping day. I’m sure the rule for Marc was to not damage the car.

      • 0 avatar
        racingmaniac

        Again though back to my tire question above…Champcar’s lap probably was done with with actual racing rubber. These “vintage” F1 car cannot be driven with their actual racing tire. They may be on Pirelli “demostration tires” or just the same tires that a lot of old F1 car owner use, which is usually some kind of Avon. Decent race tire to be sure, but certainly no actual race tire from the era….Also kinda disappointed to see the lack of competition in ALMS have driven the speed of the LMP back so much…I remember in 07-08 time when the factory P1 and P2 cars would share track with IRL Dallara that they would basically matched openwheel cars’ laptime…

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        I can’t see which tires are on the car but that is a good point. they probably are far from super soft race rubber. It is sad to see what the ACO has down to sports car racing as far as speed and engines go. The ALMS posted a video of a 333sp running at Laguna (maybe same event?), and the sound that car made…along with recently the Astons, makes you really miss the V12s. To me racing isn’t the same without the howl that only comes from 12 cylinders. I remember after going to St Pete and watching the Audi R10s, Porsche RS Spyders, and Acura ARX-01as, seeing that their lap times were almost the same as the IRL (who’s race I didn’t go to), and thinking how cool it was to know that I was watching the 2nd or 3rd fastest car around a road course in the world.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    1995 was the last of the v-12’s, and displacement went down to 3.0l that year if I remember correctly. Considering the history of the early oo’s Ferrari cars, I couldn’t imagine that they went 10/10’s at Laguna, but as I alluded to above, the car pictured was designed around the spec groove tires of the era… using modern slicks should help with the lap times, but it all depends on the compound. Looks like Gene was running quite a bit of downforce, too.

  • avatar
    Fromes

    Why couldn’t they run an F1 race at Laguna Seca? its not like you need any room to pass in F1. Most races are just long drawn out parades with 4 seconds between cars and no passing.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      There aren’t enough seats or parking spaces to sell tickets sufficient to recoup the cost of running the race.

    • 0 avatar
      ExPatBrit

      There’s a lot more passing now with the Pirelli Tires, DRS, KERS and no refueling.

      I think it’s all a bit contrived to liven up “the show”, but the number of teams in contention this year is the highest it has been for a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      F1 is a totally different animal as of late with technologies to help each other pass. I think you need to watch a current race – well except the upcoming Monaco narrow street race where almost no one can pass (why they still race there is beyond me except the richie rich’s want a race in their back yard). History be damned but it’s not much of a race anymore if you are not in the top 3 positions or if it doesn’t rain.

      Also for why F1 doesn’t run Laguna Seca – safety and the lack of run off area as F1 cars can do well over 150mph in corners essentially as upside down airplanes where any mechanical failure means drastic consequences. Reason why Watkins Glen is no longer a track they race at as well.

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