JAKE LINGEMAN

2012 Chevy Corvette ZR1 laps the Nurburgring in near-record time

Jake Lingeman is an associate editor for AutoWeek magazine.
Jake Lingeman is an associate editor for AutoWeek magazine.

The latest Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 lapped the famous 12.9-mile, 154-turn Nurburgring course in 7 minutes 19.63 seconds, besting its previous time set in 2008 by more than six seconds. Driver/Corvette engineer Jim Mero and the car moved up to seventh on the unofficial list of production-car times on Wikipedia. Of the relatively common marques on the list, only Porsche's GT2 RS bests the Corvette ZR1 with a 6.2-liter supercharged V8.

While Mero -- who also set the ZR1's fast Nurburgring time in 2008 -- might have found some time within himself, it is obvious that most, if not all of the improved performance comes from the new, optional Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires. Street-legal but essentially made for competition -- or at least serious on-track driving -- the Michelin Cup rubber works best in dry, warm conditions.

Mero set the ZR1's 2008 time in a car running on its standard Michelin Pilot Sport tires. The Cup tires improve the car's performance by about 8 percent, according to General Motors.

Other than a few safety modifications, which actually added weight, GM said the car ran in exactly the same specification as what customer's receive.

Check out the video and look for a few hairy moments when Mero gets loose, and one point where he takes a turn at about 180 mph.

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