From bad weather to crashes, the C7 Corvette has had a hard time on The Green Hell.
With the C8 Corvette on the cusp of being revealed, now is the time to reflect on the contributions that the C7 made not only to Corvette fans and the model’s history but to the broader automotive world. However, running down that list will uncover one big endowment that the C7 never managed to make: setting an official Nurburgring lap time.
In the more than six years that the C7 Corvette has been on the market, not a single Vette has managed to lay down an official lap time for Chevrolet so that we can determine where America’s sports car lies in the automotive hierarchy. And yes, that even goes for track-tuned models like the Z06 and ZR1. But according to what General Motors handling vehicle dynamics engineer and famed Corvette test driver Jim Mero told Road and Track, that hasn’t been for lack of trying.
In fact, Chevy has tried time and time again to set down an official lap, says Mero, with the automaker making eight scheduled attempts to get a lap time out of the Stingray Z51 in 2013 alone. During each of those attempts, claims Mero, Chevrolet encountered problems, whether it was bad weather, a crash, new track rules, or even an actual lap time that Chevy just didn’t want to publish.
"It went from perfectly dry to almost putting me into the guardrail,” said Mero in regards to an early attempt at a lap time that went bad due to rain. "Our objective was to beat the [991-generation Porsche 911] Carrera S, which did a 7:37.9. Back then, the fast-lap opportunity was the last lap of the day, and [the track] gave each company who requested it one lap a week.” And though the Corvette never did end up beating the 991 911 Carrera S’ 7:37.9-minute lap, it did manage a 7:39-minute lap.
Despite getting so close to the Porsche and setting a lap that’s frankly, pretty impressive, Chevy’s marketing department didn’t want to publish the number because it wasn’t better than Porsche’s lap. A later attempt, taking place after a previous run had seen Mero drive into a wall after a low dew point caused the track to become moist, involved a Z06 running 100-octane fuel. It managed a lap time of 7:10 minutes, but the time was not publicized because that engine calibration wasn’t available for sale at the time.
Further attempts in a ZR1 also proved futile thanks to everything from new track rules that made it so Mero couldn’t run laps with properly warmed tires (though he still managed a 7:04-minute lap during that run, which Chevy again didn't want to publish) to cooling system malfunctions and even an issue with Chevy’s Performance Data Recorder causing the video for a perfectly-done lap to be unpublishable. Needless to say, we hope the team won’t encounter similar issues when setting a lap in the C8.