- for 13 years running, our lightning lap event gathers the new performance cars to see how quickly they can lap virginia international raceway's grand course.
- this year the mclaren senna ran a valiant 2:34.9, our quickest lap of the 263 cars we've run to date and a new production-car record at vir.
- however, since vir only acknowledges times set during a sanctioned race, our record is unofficial, as have been the previous ones set by gm and ford in the corvette zr1 and ford gt.
this year we had an impressive lightning lap first: a production-car lap record of 2:34.9 in the mclaren senna on vir's grand course. the quick lap came at the skilled hands of our k.c. colwell, deputy testing director and skilled driver who's set many a quick time during his 10 years driving at our annual track test at virginia international raceway.
the $982,816 senna's record-setting run was set during day three of our testing after a heroic effort by mclaren that included flying over parts to fix the front suspension which was damaged by the company's factory driver on day one (read that whole tale here). during its unequaled lap, the senna logged a number of bests, including the fastest speed of 172.9 mph down the front straightaway among the 263 cars we've run to date, although the stripped-out, 789-hp mclaren isn't the most powerful car we've ever run—that's the 887-hp porsche 918 spyder. it also tied the porsche 911 gt2rs for the fastest average speed of a heady 134.5 mph through the uphill esses. next-quickest on our lighting lap leaderboard are all from our 2018 test: the porsche 911 gt2rs (2:37.8), the chevrolet corvette zr1 (2:39.5), and mclaren 720s (2:39.7).
until our 2.34.9 run in the mclaren senna, former corvette engineer jim mero's 2:37.3 lap in a 2019 corvette zr1 was widely accepted as the production-car record on vir's grand course. but since vir only acknowledges times set during a sanctioned race, neither that record nor our new one is considered "official." no major automobile race series uses the 4.1-mile grand course (imsa runs the shorter, 3.3-mile full course), so the official lap record is held by gavin bennett, who, at the 2007 united states kart grand prix, lapped grand in 2:35.6 in a 250-cc shifter kart. if mclaren wants a place in vir's record books and not just our own, it should let us take one racing.