As the saying goes, “records are meant to be broken”. In the case of the Porsche 911 GT2 RS, it not only broke the previous record, held by the Lamborghini Huracan Performante, it stomped on it on the way out, clocking a lap of 6:47.3 on the Nurburgring’s Nordschleife (or North Loop) – a new production car lap record.
Not too surprising, given that the GT2 RS is the most powerful 911 ever built. Its twin-turbo 3.8-litre flat-six kicks out 700hp and 750Nm of torque, enough for 0-100km/h in 2.8 seconds, and a top speed of 340km/h. Interestingly a few examples will also be making their way to Singapore next year, with a price tag of $1.21-million before options and COE.
That blistering lap time is a full 10-seconds faster than Porsche’s own technological marvel, the hybrid 918 Spyder hypercar, which is astonishing given that the GT2 RS is down 187hp and 530Nm, and lacks the all-wheel drive traction that the 918’s electric motors provide.
The GT2 RS was so quick in fact, that it stunned even its own development team. They had set themselves a target of 7:05 at the car’s inception, but in fact beat the Huracan’s record of 6:52 at their very first attempt. It’s not just the GT2 RS’ outright speed that Porsche is proud of though; the fact that two drivers in two cars were able to complete five more laps below a time of 6:50 showed a consistency and repeatability in the car’s performance that was the icing on the team’s cake.
The Nordschleife is a favourite among car manufacturers when it comes to development of their latest performance models. The 20.6km-long circuit was built in 1927, and its sudden elevation changes, challenging bumps and fearsome number of corners (70 to 170, depending on who you ask and how you count them), coupled with its relative safety makes it an extreme trial that only the best set up cars can navigate with poise.
Of course, the Nurburgring is also a battleground, where a fast lap spells massive bragging rights and marketing opportunities for manufacturers, even when they’re not gunning for the outright crown. Here are a few other noteworthy “best-in-class” stars, together with their respective onboard videos for your viewing pleasure:
The latest Honda Civic Type R is a car we like a lot. Agile, frenetic, with killer front-end grip and a slick 6-speed manual ‘box, it’s something CarBuyer boss Ju-Len would actually fork out money for, if it wasn’t currently sold out in Singapore.
320hp makes it the most powerful front-wheel drive car in production, and wild aerodynamic mods give it more downforce than any of its rivals. Its time of 7:43.8 is just over 3 seconds faster from the next FWD car (a VW Golf GTI Clubsport), but more amazingly is just over 1 second faster than the previous-gen Audi R8 V10.
The competition to be the fastest four-door around the ‘Ring has been rather intense over the last couple of years. In 2015, Alfa Romeo revealed when it debuted its new Giulia Quadrifoglio (that’s four-leaf clover in Italian) at the Frankfurt Motor Show that it had set a Nurburgring record for saloons at 7:39.
The following year, Porsche hit back with the current Panamera Turbo, besting the Giulia’s time by one second despite weighing 400kg more.
Well, this year, Alfa took back the crown, with a blistering time of 7:32. What’s the difference between the 2015 record and today’s? Gearbox. The old record was set using a 6-speed manual Giulia, while the current record was in a car with an 8-speed automatic, hooked up to the same turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 with 510hp, and with the same test driver behind the wheel; bonus style points here for doing the lap in just a T-shirt and jeans.
The Giulia is a car that’s been lauded by the international press, with some even calling it Alfa’s renaissance. It’s not currently on sale in Singapore, but given that a few units have been spotted at its soon-to-be-opened showroom at Leng Kee, a local launch by end-2017 seems plausible.
Fastest manual and fastest American car – Dodge Viper ACR – 7:01.3
In a number of ways, the Dodge Viper is an automotive dinosaur. No trick active aero or complicated electronics here, just a massive 8.4-litre V10 without forced induction or hybrid assistance, a manual transmission, and a simple rear-wheel drive platform. Like the dinosaurs, it’s also been killed off, although it did go out with a bang.
As a swansong for the Viper, which ended production earlier this year, a die-hard group of fans made an attempt to crack a 7 minute lap time of the Nurburgring using two Viper ACRs – hardcore, stripped-down versions with wings so big they could double up as household furniture, basically the American equivalent of the GT2 RS. Unlike almost all other ‘Ring records though, this one received no factory support, and instead was entirely crowdfunded and self-organised.
A blown tyre and subsequent crash ended this fairytale sendoff premarturely, but the team was still able to record a 7:01 lap time, the fastest for any American car, and the fastest for one with an old-fashioned manual gearbox.
Two-wheeled car record – Mini Cooper S – 45 minutes
Ok, so this is the slowest record on this list by a very long way, but it’s no less impressive. Chinese stunt driver Han Yue is the inaugural record holder for lapping the Nurburgring on two wheels, with a glacial time of about 45 minutes. Han is no stranger to Minis – he used one to set the current Guinness World Record for parallel parking (in a space just 8cm longer than the car). For this attempt, the car had to be lightly modified for the attempt, with a welded front differential and a solid rubber tyre from the construction industry to ensure it wouldn’t go pop.
The entire lap was also the first ‘Ring record attempt to be streamed live on Facebook, so if things had gone belly up, it would have happened in front of millions around the world.
Thankfully, things went off mostly without a hitch. A severe vibration from the rear tyre prevented Han from going much faster than 20km/h, and by the 6km mark his neck and shoulder were in agony from the strain of tilting over so much.
No record to be found here, but we decided to throw in this bonus clip because it might just be the most captivating, enthralling, heart-stopping piece of car control you’ll ever see, and because it highlights just how tricky the Nurburgring can be to master.
The year is 1989, the car is the RUF CTR “Yellowbird”, a car based on the Porsche 911 but built in a separate factory. At one point the fastest car in the world, the Yellowbird was underrated at 469hp, weighed just 1150kg and could hit 340km/h, faster than the legendary Porsche 959 and Ferrari F40. All on skinny (by modern standards) 215-section front and 255-section rear tyres.
Such a high power figure, low weight and boosty power delivery from its twin-turbo 3.4-litre flat-six doesn’t make for an easy beast to tame, and so it proves: the driver in this video steers just as much in the opposite direction through every corner as he does the correct one. No wonder the film is so aptly titled “Fascination On The Nurburgring”.