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2011 C&D Lightning Lap

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So I finally had a chance to read the story. First of all, the Lightning Lap is becoming my favorite mag story and I actually find my self wondering how cars will perform in this test almost every time I read about a new sports car coming out. I can't remember another magazine series that has accomplished this. Bravo to C&D.

Standouts:

Corvette Z06 with Z07 package - this is basically a naturally aspirated ZR1. 2:53.5 (WOW)

Porsche Boxster Spyder - a testament to light weight and chassis development - 3:03.8 with "only" 320HP (faster than the GT500)

Lexus IS-F - seems to have finally caught up to the M3 at least on paper - 305.8

Mustangs: C&D had all three performance mustangs in this one test. It is very cool to see the performance levels of the cars in a same day same track same driver comparison. With that said, the most impressive of the bunch had to be the V6 with performance pack. Bouncing off the limiter for 15 seconds a lap it tied the class record held by the Nismo 350Z at 3:12.5. My second thought was that I expected a bit lower lap times from both the GT and GT500.

After seeing the GT run a dead heat with the M3 in a recent comparison, I expected it to fare about the same at VIR...it was three seconds slower in this test at 308.6.

The GT500 in this years test was a performance pack car and ran ~2 seconds faster than the 07 way back when (although the 07 was only good for one strong lap due to heatsoak) at 3:04. Frankly with less weight, 50 more HP and a much improved suspension setup, I thought we'd be discussing a very high 2 min or ultra low three minute time.

So I guess the real question is, what can we infer about how the Boss will do in next years test? My hope is that C&D will have both models out (hell, they had three mustangs in the test this year).

The boxster spyder picked up two seconds on the cayman S with the same HP, same tires, and just a touch less weight. The big change in this vehicle was Porsche spending a lot of time developing a more track orientated setup. Even though this is a completely different vehicle as compared to a mustang, I think it can give us an idea as to expectations.

Following this thinking, I expect the Boss to be tuned slightly more aggressively. When combined with a fairly decent bump in HP, I would expect a larger performance delta. I also think that it is likely Ford has had the Boss out at VIR with a 3:05 time in mind. Will the Boss put three + seconds on a performance pack GT at VIR? I think it probably will. Will the Boss beat the performance pack GT500 at VIR.....hmmm, hard to say but I am leaning toward no although I expect it to be close.
Prediction - 3:04.5

On to the LS. I expect the LS to smash this course. Why? Alot more front end grip, VERY stiff suspension, and ten inches of pirelli corsas on the back. More importantly though, I think it will be easier to extract max performance out of the LS as compared to the GT500. We have already see the video that Ford put out showing the GT500 running a 2:58. The LS should offer a very controlled chassis setup to go along with tires that will offer the driver alot of confidence. Toss in a little downforce and I think that it not only beats the GT500 but will also break the 3min barrier. Time will tell.


Here is the story:

http://www.caranddriver.com/features/10q4/lightning_lap_2011-feature
 
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Cars run better at some tracks than others. This is one track. Driver skill plays a big part

I read the article for a couple of minutes and got confused with the results at the bottom of the page.

First, the LLx doesn't always match the dates.

Second, the results are rather mixed within the same vehicle
e.g. Corvette Z51 has the following times: 3:09.3 ... 3:03.6 ... 3:01.2
The Corvette Z06 had 3:01.1 ... 2:58.2 ... 2:53.5

Why an 8 second difference in times for the Z51? Different track layouts?
Why did the fastest Z51 come within a whisker of the slowest Z06? The Z06 has at least a 10% hp advantage.

What would I like to see?
A similar test at three tracks with only two drivers (one almost a pro, and the other a Joe Blow enthusiast) taking a turn in every car. That way we'll know which cars require a lot of skill (difference between the two drivers), and which cars are better balanced (results in the same percentile at multiple tracks). Since my skill is more towards Joe Blow, his results will give me more of an idea how I would do with the car.
 
Mark said:
After seeing the GT run a dead heat with the M3 in a recent comparison, I expected it to fare about the same at VIR...it was three seconds slower in this test at 308.6.
My impression is Willow Springs is a tighter track than VIR. If that's the case I would expect the better torque of the 5.0 to lower lap times on a tighter track.

I agree with your assessment and think the street Boss will be 1+ seconds slower than the GT500 and the LS to be 1+ seconds faster but it does not break three minutes. It might with the racing seat and four point harness that the Ford driver used to get the sub 3 minute lap. Are the Goodyear F1's as sticky as the Pirelli Corsas? The tires could play a big part with the LS.
 

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