Nurburgring Times. Do We Need Them?
In 2017 we had 3 manufacturers attempt to break the production car lap record at the Nurburgring. Firstly Lamborghini claimed a 6 minute 52 second lap with the Huracan Performante. Then came the McLaren P1LM developed by Lanzante which smashed Lamborghini's record with a frankly ludicrous 6 minute 43 second lap time and more recently the Porsche GT2 RS with a mighty impressive 6 minutes and 47 seconds.
Before we go any further I'd like to say I am not here to detract from these amazing achievements, in fact with every iteration of a new record the boundaries of technology and driver skill are pushed further and further. You only have to take a look at some of the onboard footage to see how monumentally fast and committed a record attempt at 'the ring' is.
There are however multiple attempts every year and not all of them end quite so successfully, as the crash of the Koenigsegg One:1 would suggest. So where is all this heading?
These attempts are showcases from manufacturers to show how good their cars are and how much better the brands are than everyone else. Granted when any car appears even within the top 10 of the fastest production cars around the Nurburgring it does apply a distinct aura of credibility to the model, highlighting it as "a proper piece of kit".
Controversially however, no one really knows if the cars that are tested on the ring are the exact same spec as the production cars that customers are actually buying, because for all the importance, pride and severity that surrounds these achievements, there is in fact no officially recognised governing body to enforce any parameters for manufacturers to adhere to.
For example, there is nothing to say that a road car record attempt can't run a set of slicks on the car or an uprated engine, improved brakes or, hell, why not just re-body a race car! There is un-written etiquette sure, but no actual rules. So with that in mind what are these manufacturers really proving? Are they in essence actually misleading prospective customers?
Lastly and possibly the most important for me... what do you really want out of your road car? Do you want to drive the car moderately on public roads knowing there is a couple of professional racing drivers out there who under the right conditions could make your car go very very fast? Or would you rather the car be rewarding for you the driver, designed to provide the most driving pleasure and enjoyment you possibly can from it?
I measure my car experiences in 'SPG' - Smiles Per Gallon - because on the road, in this bracket, you want your car to first and foremost be fun! There is only so fast you can go on the road - so what's the need for lapping the ring a second or two faster than the next guy? All modern day supercars are ballistically fast anyway and to even begin to approach the limits of these machines one would have to be a hell of a driver, and in 99% of cases most of us quite simply won't have the ability to exploit a supercar at it's absolute technical limit.
This is where I believe the likes of Singer and Alfaholics are onto something very interesting. The team at Singer out in California are doing a rather splendid job of reimagining the Porsche 911 and distilling it into their vision of how good a Porsche 911 really can be if you cherry pick the best characteristics from previous generation cars and refine them into one sublime package. Well the answer is not the fastest car around the Nurburgring but an experience that seems to unanimously delight drivers the world over from professional racing drivers to die hard Porsche purists. The point is, it's not about lap times and while these cars certainly don't hang around, the end goal is a lot more about the driver than the spec sheet. It's the emotional connection that can't be quantified in lap times, a trait I believe is becoming even more important in this era of ever restrictive driving conditions.
With this being said I love to watch the the record attempts! I'm mesmerised by the drivers skill and the engineering endeavours to achieve such a feat and lets face it... it's a great way of marketing a new car!
So what's it going to be for you? Track weapon or theatrical machine!? Comments below...