- a modified 2022 tesla model s plaid just lapped the grand course at virginia international raceway (vir) in 2:50.7.
- that's 4.5 seconds quicker than we recorded with a production porsche taycan turbo s at our 2021 lightning lap.
- the model s plaid had aftermarket carbon-ceramic front brakes and was driven by a professional, but it wore standard michelin pilot sport 4s tires.
clarification 3/18/22: this story has been updated to clarify that because the model s plaid was modified, its lap time is not directly comparable to our lightning lap results, as we always run unmodified production vehicles.
we've long known that teslas can be absurdly quick in a straight line, but they've never really shone when they had to turn a hot lap. that type of performance has so far been reserved for porsche's all-electric phenom, the four-door taycan. however, the tables have turned, because a tesla model s plaid just posted a quicker unofficial lap time around a big-time racetrack than a porsche taycan turbo s.
with a professional driver behind the yoke, and some aftermarket front brakes, carmine cupani's privately owned '22 model s plaid on stock michelin pilot sport 4s rubber lapped vir's grand course in 2:50.7, according to a video posted on cupani's youtube channel. while it's an awesome accomplishment, it's not directly comparable to our lightning lap results because we only run unmodified production vehicles, and the tesla is obviously modified.
still, the plaid's time beats the 2:55.2 lap we set with a production 2020 porsche taycan turbo s at last year's lightning lap. the 4.5 ticks that separate the tesla from the porsche are especially impressive since a 2016 model s p85d we tried to run at vir several years ago couldn't even complete a single lap under full power, let alone set a record. in a phone interview with car and driver, cupani says the plaid's track mode played a big role in breaking the record because it effectively kept the battery and electric motors cool during each 20-minute session. he said in track mode that the plaid's prodigious power felt easier to manage and that the accelerator's responses felt more linear.
it all went down at car and driver's track-day event held on march 15 at vir, which gave regular folks a chance to test their skills in their cars on the same grand course configuration that we use for our annual lightning lap. in the case of the model s plaid, cupani had his friend and pro driver johan schwartz set the record lap. in between track sessions, the two would drive to the nearest tesla supercharger about 25 minutes from vir, spend another 40 minutes getting a full charge, and then drive back, all the while discussing different strategies to take down the taycan.
as shown in the video, schwartz does a masterful job driving the model s plaid around the grand course, including one sphincter-clenching moment when disaster almost struck. at the 1:03-minute mark in the video, schwartz can be seen climbing the esses at about 120 mph when he nearly loses control. for a split-second, schwartz frantically saws at the tesla's much-derided yoke before somehow saving the car and the lap. "i was shitting my pants looking at that video," cupani laughed nervously over the phone.
also detailed in the three-minute video that was posted on youtube today are modifications cupani made to the tesla. the model s plaid is apparently fitted with unplugged performance's carbon-ceramic front-brake kit, which cupani says has smaller-diameter rotors and smaller-size calipers than tesla's said-to-be-upcoming $20,000 carbon-ceramic brake package. it is also claimed in the video that the rear calipers and rotors are completely stock. as previously mentioned, the wheel-and-tire setup is said to be stock, too, featuring 21-inch arachnid wheels wrapped with michelin pilot sport 4s tires that are currently part of a $4500 package on the model s.
the '22 model s plaid currently starts at $131,440. it's the first tesla that's powered by three electric motors (one at the front and two at the rear), which combine to generate 1020 horsepower and 1050 pound-feet of torque. the version we tested hit 60 mph in 2.1 seconds and completed the quarter-mile in 9.4 seconds at 151 mph. for comparison, a 2022 taycan turbo s starts at $186,350 and has a 750-hp dual-electric-motor setup with a unique two-speed transmission. the last taycan turbo s we tested hit 60 mph in 2.4 seconds and finished the quarter-mile in 10.5 ticks at 130 mph.