Car and Driver is out with one of our favorite features of the year. It’s time for the 2021 Lightning Lap at VIR and one of the participants this year is the 2021 Corvette Stingray Z51 Coupe! This is the first time the C8 Corvette has been invited to participate in the Lightning Lap and we are excited to see how well the car stacks up against the current crop of competitors, as well as the previous C6 and C7 Corvettes which ran the Lightning Lap over the last 15 years.
Virginia International Raceway’s 4.1 Grand Course has been called the North American Nurburgring due to the number of tricky corners that are on the course as well as the long straights where speeds can easily cross triple digits. The Corvette engineering team routinely tests their prototypes at VIR as part of its ride and handling development and so we expect the Z51 Coupe to feel right at home.
Car and Driver categorizes the various classes of Lightning Lap based on the MSRP of the car tested. While previous base-model Stingrays have run the LL2 class ($35,000-$64,999), this year the as-tested 2021 Corvette Stingray with the Z51 performance package, Magnetic Ride Control, and competition seats has an MSRP of $69,480 which puts in the LL3 class ($65,000-124,999). Also racing in the LL3 class this year is the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, Porsche’s 718 Cayman GT4, and the Mercedes-AMG CLA45.
Here is what Car and Driver said of the 2021 Corvette Stingray at VIR:
Previous C8 track tests left us wishing for more front-end traction. But around VIR, the Vette turns in beautifully and maintains its purchase. Slipping into understeer seems more the fault of the driver than the chassis. Lap after lap, the brakes feel inexhaustible. The annoyances that distract you on the street—the square steering wheel, the poor rear visibility—melt away on track. We do wish that Chevy would let you pair the lightest steering effort with the raciest Performance Traction Management mode, but the heavy helm isn’t a big deal; the C8 obeys on first command and never puts up a fight.
In this year’s Lightning Lap competition, the Shelby GT500 takes the win in the LL3 class with a lap time of 2:44.6 while the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 came in at 2:50.3 and the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 recorded a lap time of 2:58.2.
Over the 15 years that Car and Driver has been running the Lightning Lap program, a total of 277 different vehicles have recorded lap times. As a historical perspective, the 2021 Corvette Stingray comes in at number 30 on the all-time list and bested the times of the 2014 Corvette Stingray, the 2012 Corvette ZR1, and the 2011 Corvette Z06!
Here are the archived Corvette times from the Lightning Lap Competiton:
- 2:39.5 – 2019 Corvette ZR1
- 2:44.6 – 2015 Corvette Z06
- 2:47.1 – 2017 Corvette Grand Sport
- 2:49.0 – 2021 Corvette Stingray (Z51)
- 2:50.7 – 2012 Corvette ZR1 (Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Tires)
- 2:51.8 – 2009 Corvette ZR1 (Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 Tires)
- 2:53.5 – 2011 Corvette Z06 (Z07)
- 2:53.8 – 2014 Corvette Stingray (Z51)
- 2:58.2 – 2007 Corvette Z06
- 2:58.5 – 2010 Corvette Grand Sport
- 3:01.0 – 2006 Corvette Z06
- 3:01.2 – 2008 Corvette Z51
- 3:03.6 – 2007 Corvette Z51
You can see the all-time list of Lightning Lap competition times at Car and Driver.
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[VIDEO] Watch the Corvette Stingray’s Run at VIR for Car and Driver’s Lightning Lap