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Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE Beats Porsche 911, Nissan GTR in C&D Lightning Lap

The folks at Car & Driver have announced the results of their 2017 Lighting Lap series and while the Mercedes Benz AMG GT R took the title as the overall winner, the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE beat every other competitor in the group – including the Porsche 911 Turbo S and the Nissan GT-R Track Edition, both of which are in the price class above the Camaro.


2017 marks the 11th year where the folks at Car & Driver assembled a collection of the best road-going track cars for a head-to-head battle at Virginia International Raceway. VIR is known for being one of the most intricate road course tracks in the US, sometimes being referred to as the American Nurburgring when it comes to the full scope of performance required to set record laps, and that was why Car & Driver picked the VIR Grand West Course.

The 4.1-mile version of VIR has every variety of turn (24 in total) along with a series of high speed straights while test a car’s ability to cut through tight turns, throttle through sweeping turns and blast down straightaways – much like the Nurburgring, only about a 3rd of the length. The 2-door cars are grouped into 1 of 5 classes based on price with LL1 being the least expensive ($35k or less) while LL5 is the most expensive ($250K+), while all sedans go into the relatively new LLTransporter class.

For the 2017 Lightning Lap shootout, C&D took 19 cars to VIR and after first being rained out, the team got to push each of those vehicles to their perceived limit in order to rank them against each other and against some of the greatest performance cars in modern history.

In finishing 2nd overall this year, the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE took home a moral victory, with the American muscle car knocking off a couple of the world’s greatest supercars and a bunch of other cars which are considered to be superior to muscle cars on a road course.

Camaro ZL1 1LE Shines at VIR
The team at Car & Driver was able to turn out a best lap of 2:45.7 with the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. That was good for 2nd place overall this year, trailing the Mercedes Benz AMG GT R (2:43.4) by just over 2 seconds. However, the ZL1 1LE’s time was good enough to beat the 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S, and the 2017 Nissan GT-R Track Edition – both of which are in the LL4 class while the Camaro is in LL3 - along while also beating the 2018 Mercedes Benz AMG E63, the 2017 Porsche Cayman S, the 2017 Alfa Romeo Guilia Quadrifoglio and the 2017 Lexus LC500 in the LL3 group.

In short, the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was the quickest LL3 car in the 2017 Car & Driver Lightning Lap while also beating all but one of the cars in the pricier LL4 class. Also, for those keeping track, the non-1LE Camaro ZL1 was also in the Lightning Lap this year and with a time of 2:50.1, it finished 2nd in the LL3 class and 4th overall – trailing only the 1LE in the class while trailing the AMG GT R and the 911 Turbo S in the overall running.

Click here for a look at the full order of finish of the 2017 Lightning Lap from Car & Driver.

Camaro ZL1 1LE is 7th Best in Lightning Lap History
In addition to finishing 2nd in the 2017 Car & Driver Lightning Lap, the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE’s time of 2:45.7 puts in the 7th place overall all-time in the history of the Lightning Lap. The only other car in the LL3 class to turn a quicker lap time at VIR Grand West was the C7 Corvette Z06 during Lightning Lap #9 (2015) and the only other American cars to run quicker laps than the ZL1 1LE were the C7 Z06 and the 2016 Dodge Viper ACR – which holds the record for the quickest American car to ever lap the Nurburgring.

The other cars which have turned a quicker Lightning Lap than the Camaro ZL1 1LE were the Porsche 918 Hybrid, the Lexus RC F GT Concept Car, the AMG GT R from this year’s running and the Ferrari 458 GTB. Mind you, this is a road-going Chevy Camaro, which has long been grouped in with a long list of American muscle cars which are considered to be outmatched by pretty much anything on a track with turns. However, the Camaro proves that the tide has turned and American cars are no longer built to only dominate the drag strip.