It's the age-old East v West battle for supremacy. In the red corner is Nissan's heavyweight, the R35 GT-R. Don't let its weight fool you though: this sumo can whistle its way through a lap of the mighty Nurburgring in 7 minutes and 29 seconds thanks to its complex AWD system and sophisticated suspension design, earning it the title of the world's fastest mass-produced car. However the GT-R's got a new challenger now: a bantamweight American upstart who's here to spoil the Japanese supercar's day.
It's the Corvette ZR1, and it's just lapped the Nurburgring Nordschliefe in an astonishing 7:26.4.
GM fans have long waited for this day. Over in The Land Of The Free, fierce debates have raged since the GT-R's debut over which car is better, GT-R or Corvette. It appears we now have an answer, and Nissan die-hards might not like it.
Jim Mero - a development engineer on the ZR1 project - was the man responsible for driving that 7:26 lap and he accomplished it in a completely factory-spec car with standard tyres, standard suspension and alignment settings and a completely standard engine. The lap was timed not only with an electronic transponder, but also with two separate stopwatches,and was a flying lap as opposed to beginning from a standing start. After the lap Mero commented that there was a strong headwind on the final straight which may have cost him a few vital fractions of a second and that there were a few other parts of the track where he felt more time could have been shaved off. As if 7:26 wasn't fast enough.
The ZR1 has well and truly earned its supercar badge now: at 7:26.4 the ZR1 is 1.4 seconds faster than a Pagani Zonda F. The fact that Mero believes the ZR1 is capable of slashing a few more seconds off what is already an epic lap is even more impressive and this news should be a real wake-up call for the more 'traditional' European supercar manufacturers. It should also be ringing alarm bells over in Japan too, as Honda and Lexus have long been gunning for the "fastest production car" mantle with their new NSX and LF-A. Nissan haven't given up either and will be launching a lighter, faster and more powerful GT-R Spec V later this year, so Godzilla ain't down for the count just yet.
Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter says that video proof of Mero's record-breaking lap should be available sometime around July 7. Can't wait.