Them boys are at it again. While the Corvette engineering team was validating the ZR1’s on-track stamina during a 24-hour session of lapping Virginia International Raceway’s 4.1-mile Grand Course West, something interesting happened. The ZR1 inadvertently set the production car lap record with a blistering 2:37.25 lap with Corvette development engineer Jim Mero behind the wheel. The Ford GT must now settle for second place.
The Grand Course West has been America’s de facto measuring stick for sports car lap performance since Car and Driver’s Lightning Lap was established, with the course configuration offering a balance of handling and high-speed sections. The production car lap record belonged to the the Ford GT (2:38.6) and, famously by the outgoing Viper ACR as part of its last hurrah, record-setting, cross-country tour (2:40.02).
Ford’s “accidental” record lap, with racer Billy Johnson behind the wheel, was announced just days before Chevrolet dropped the news that it had out-lapped the GT. The ZR1 was equipped with the eight-speed automatic transmission and the ZTK package that adds an adjustable carbon-fiber wing, front splitter, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, and unique Magnetic Ride Control tuning. The ZTK package is a $2995 option on top of the $120,000 ZR1, proving once again that team Corvette loves to punch above its weight class. Who needs four cams behind the driver when one up front can do this?
Powering the 2019 Corvette ZR1 is a new 6.2-liter supercharged LT5 V-8. The latest in the evolution of Chevrolet’s pushrod LT engine family, the LT5 uses a larger, more efficient supercharger with Eaton TVS 2650 rotors that are shorter than those found in the 650-hp LT4 but larger in diameter.
All we can say is, we’re happy to see old rivals still trading punches.