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Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Sets New Lightning Lap LL3 Class Record

chevroletcorvette z06 at lightning lap 2023
ChevyCorvette Z06 Sets New Lightning Lap RecordCar and Driver

Since we started Lightning Lap back in 2006, the LL3 pricing class has always been the sweet spot of performance, the best bang for the buck. LL2 often has more contestants, but it doesn't quite have the firepower of LL3: German, Japanese, and American cars that seat two, four, or five. Coupes. SUVs. Sedans. LL3 has it all. And LL3 now has a new high mark in the form of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and its 2:38.6 lap.

We say the best bang for the buck because European and Japanese cars have to compete with the American metal that almost always undercuts the overseas competition. Corvettes compete with Camaros, Ford Mustang GT500s, Cadillac Vs, some AMG 63s, BMW Ms, and more. We adjusted the class breakdowns this year, so LL3 now covers cars with a base price between $75,000 and $139,999. And no, we didn't set that upper limit based on the Z06's pricing. (Reminder, when we discuss base price in Lightning Lap stories, that price includes performance-enhancing options.)

An American has always held the crown of LL3 champ. A C6 Z06 was the first (2006 model) and second (2007 model) LL3 champ, with times at Lightning Lap 1 and 2 of 3:01.1 and 2:58.6, respectively. Next to hold the belt was a Dodge Viper SRT10 in a one-off test where it dropped the LL3 time by 1.2 seconds.

But then came the third Lightning Lap installment. If you aren't familiar, check it out. There were some heavy hitters at that one, including the Nissan GT-R (LL3), Ferrari 430 Scuderia (LL5), Mosler MT900S (LL5), and the second-generation Cadillac CTS-V (LL2). Also in the group was the Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR (LL3) that turned a 2:48.6, a 10.0-second improvement in LL3 cars. A sub 2:50 at that time was pretty nuts and the only thing faster was the Mosler (2:45.9).

In part because that was such a big jump, the ACR remained the LL3 target until the ninth Lightning Lap, where the 650-hp Corvette Z06 (a C7) turned a 2:44.6. At Lightning Lap 14, a Mustang Shelby GT500 would exactly match it.

Which brings us back to the incredible lap laid down by the new Corvette Z06. The Corvette went to a mid-engine layout so it could perform better on racetracks. Its 2:38.6 isn't only a new LL3 record, it is the fastest lap by a car with a naturally aspirated engine and the fifth fastest in Lightning Lap history. Everything else faster is in the LL5 class and costs at least twice as much. That alone is enough for celebration.

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