Lightning Lap Legends: Chevrolet Corvette vs. Porsche 911! ""
Posted on: September 5, 2017

Chevrolet Corvette. Porsche 911. Despite their differing engine layouts—the Corvette's V-8 is up front (for now), while the Porsche's flat-six hangs off the back—these two automotive heroes have been natural rivals for more than 50 years. We’ve held our Lightning Lap shootout at Virginia International Raceway for roughly one-fifth of that time, and the Corvette and 911 have featured prominently—as of 2017, we’ve recorded 21 times for the two models in various incarnations, and the battles have been fierce. Flip through to see how America’s sports car and Germany’s icon stack up at VIR:Except the Corvette is definitely not a clumsy beast. Sure, the Lotus was more precise around the racetrack, but the Vette handled terrifically, too. The Elise's lap time — 3:09.2—was just 0.1 second quicker than the Vette's and largely the result of the Elise's sticky tires, which allowed the Elise to carry more speed through every corner. Those tires — Yokohama A048s — are part of the model's optional Track package ($2495), so they were allowed, but they're gumball tires that probably won't last 2000 miles when driven on the street. READ MORE ››As before, there was only one entrant in this class, this time in the shape of a Porsche 911 Turbo. Despite a strong 480 horsepower, it wasn’t that happy around VIR and ran an unexpectedly mediocre 3:05.8 time, partly because of its 3528-pound mass, partly because the power went away after a couple of laps, and partly because it really doesn’t like to dance. Although the Audi R8 was down on straightaway speed, it was undeniably easier to drive fast. The Turbo suffers from an overly stimulating amount of midcorner lift-throttle oversteer, although it’s reasonably stable as long as it’s set up early and powered through the turns. As with all 911s, the brake-pedal feel and the steering are superb, but the engine note is a bit too muted. READ MORE ››Tucked under the decklid of the 911 Carrera S is a 3.8-liter engine whose placement and power make the 911 a completely different animal from the Porsche Cayman. With 385 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, the 911 leaves corners with an urgency that is missing in the comparatively relaxed Cayman S. Down the front straight, the Carrera S kept on accelerating all the way to 141.7 mph, 7.2 mph faster than the Cayman S. READ MORE ››There were several surprises in this class—and the biggest was the astonishing performance of the base Corvette equipped with the Z51 package. The Vette was a returnee to VIR because we experienced a data problem with its quickest lap last year. We had to publish its second-quickest lap time (3:09.3) then, which we didn’t think represented the car’s capabilities. READ MORE ››The 911 GT3 was the second-fastest car of the day, turning a lap in 3:01.8. That was slightly disappointing, considering the Dodge Viper SRT10 coupe and Corvette Z06 posted better times during our previous outing at VIR. The Porsche didn’t disappoint in the way it performed, however. It’s a tactile treat, with beautifully weighted steering, sublime brake-pedal feel, a satisfying short-throw shifter, and a majestic Wagnerian engine note. READ MORE ››With a herd of 15 cars, 11 more than the LL2 group in our 2007 derby, this category was by far the biggest, ranging from predictably fast rides such as the Corvette Z51, a big favorite last year, to some that we expected to sizzle but didn’t: A particular disappointment was the Subaru WRX STI. READ MORE ››The Corvette Z06 was brutal and tricky to drive at the limit. With the stability- and traction-control systems off, it loved sideways action, whether the driver lifted at the entrance to a corner or was flooring it out the exit. The Z06 had serious brakes, talkative steering, and the most compelling engine note, but driving it fast was spooky, if oversteer makes you nervous. Mastering this car was challenging and satisfying, but drivers needed to be on their game. Still, with a lap of 3:01.1, it was the fastest of the LL3s and awfully close to taking overall honors. READ MORE ››It didn't take long to dial in the new 911's lap time. Unlike its immediate predecessor, the new 911—or 991 in Porsche Sprache—is comfortable at the limit. And, once you find that limit, it's easy to stay there. Much of the credit has to go to the 991's four-inch-longer wheelbase and its widened front track. READ MORE ››Last year, a Corvette with the Z51 handling package produced a stellar 3:01.2 lap to lead the LL2 pack. The track suspension can no long­er be optioned on a base Corvette, though it is part of the new Grand Sport’s armament, which also includes Z06 tires, footwear, and bodywork. READ MORE ››The overall champ of the day was the Corvette Z06, which took nearly three seconds off the time posted by another example last year. The Z06’s 2:58.2 lap made it the first Lightning Lapper to get around VIR’s Grand Course in less than three minutes, which is all the more remarkable considering it does not have the sticky, racing-type tires the 911 GT3 enjoys. As before, the Z06’s combination of huge horsepower and light weight gave it an advantage on the two long straightaways and in the run up to the Sector Two esses. READ MORE ››The 911 Turbo S isn’t one of Porsche’s hard-core track devices, but it shadowed the non-street-legal Ariel Atom 3 from 2010 by 0.1 second. It also shaved more than eight seconds off the last 911 Turbo’s time, set in 2007 in a non-S. The current Turbo S has an additional 50 horsepower from a new direct-injection flat-six, which certainly helps, but other changes wrought for the 2010 model year—the seven-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission, a revised suspension and all-wheel-drive system—have also made this new  Turbo a far better track lapper. READ MORE ››Everyone agreed: The 911 GT3 RS might not have been the fastest car in this particular Lightning Lap event, but it was the sweetest to drive. It starts flattering its driver in the cabin, which is tailored to the serious pilot like no other car here. The bucket seat wraps intimately around your torso, the Alcantara-trimmed shifter has flick-o’-the wrist short throws, and the steering wheel’s rim is just the right thickness. READ MORE ››With great steering and handling, the latest Corvette is a highly engaging road car. But aside from a few laps at GM’s Milford Road Course and the very short Streets of Willow Springs circuit in California, we hadn’t spent much time hustling a C7 around a track. Until this year’s LL Thrash-a-palooza, that is. READ MORE ››We knew the ZR1 was going to be fast—but not this quick. Only two cars have gone faster than the ZR1 in our Lightning Lap challenge, but both of them—the Mosler MT900S and the Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR, from the 2008 event—are much more in their element on a track than on a street. Yet the Corvette combines startling pace around VIR with lots of luggage space, plus a tractable engine, good visibility, and a supple ride. READ MORE ››Considering the speed produced by its 560-hp twin-turbocharged six, the Turbo S never comes across as a threat. For one, you can see the 911’s nose, the track, the track workers, and the sky. Some of that is useful to a quick lap. But a bigger slice of confidence comes from the calmness that the robots engineered into this car’s chassis. Dynamic anti-roll bars cancel body list, adaptive powertrain mounts clamp down on the engine and transaxle’s movement, four-wheel steering stabilizes cornering, a seven-speed dual clutch shifts perfectly every time, and the four-wheel-drive system makes it possible to go to full power earlier than you can with rear-wheel drive. Putting your foot down and letting the car’s electronics figure out the rest is a classic GT-R pilot’s move, now available from Porsche. READ MORE ››How much are stickier tires worth? About a second according to our clock. With the Michelin Pilot Sport Cups, which are lightly disguised race rubber, the ZR1’s best lap was 1.1 seconds quicker than it was on more roadworthy Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s. READ MORE ››Someone inevitably asks: Which one is your favorite? In this field of dreams, it’s impossible to pick one. But if we had to drive one car as fast as possible for an entire tank of gas, it’d be hard to choose anything but the Porsche 911 GT3. READ MORE ››Basically, the Grand Sport is a Z06 with 460 horsepower instead of 650. Like the Z06, it’s weaponized fiberglass, just with a little less fissile material. Equipped with the $7995 Z07 package, which adds Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires and carbon-ceramic brakes, the Grand Sport clings to Turn 1 with 1.19 g’s of grip, a close second to the Z06’s 1.20 g’s, the most grip we’ve ever recorded in that corner. READ MORE ››It’s not as scary as it looks. Everything that makes the Porsche 911 GT3 RS intimi­dating—the tires that barely fit, the shark gills on the fenders, the ironing board hanging off the tail—makes for a friendlier car on the track. The tires, vents, and that wing work to make your palms just a bit less sweaty as you nose the $189,760 GT3 RS into the fast Climbing Esses at 137 mph. READ MORE ››2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S, 2:46.8 - Lightning Lap 11Seconds before the Corvette Z06 crosses the start-finish line to begin its hot lap, you’re subjected to 1.20 g’s of lateral acceleration for six full seconds through Hog Pen. A silence falls over the switchboard in your head. Every neuron lines up to get the Z06 moving through space as quickly as possible. Gone are the employment doubts, the mortgage-payment anxieties, and the hair-thinning concerns that clutter up your daily thoughts—domestic worry is not possible at 1.20 g’s. Belt into a Z06 with the Z07 package like this one and the automotive-induced enlightenment lasts exactly 2:44.6. READ MORE ›› “”

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