Critical Section

the King of Nürburgring

Friday,  10/10/08  09:18 PM

It’s the kind of discussion that often crops up when car guys get together – which is the fastest?  If money was no object, what supercar would you go for?

Nissan GT-R vs Porsche 911 TurboIf you're at all interested in such things, you might have been following the saga of the Nissan GT-R, which supposedly lapped the famous Nürburgring track in Germany faster than a Porsche 911 Turbo.  They're both really fast cars, so the argument is a little moot, but still, the Nissan's 7:38 lap time got people's attention, as being two seconds faster than the 911's 7:40.

Well this was all very exciting but there is one lucky guy who decided to see for himself which car was truly the fastest, and he just happened to own, himself, several of the world's fastest supercars, and he asked American Le Mans Series racer Marc Basseng to drive them each around Nürburgring to see which was fastest.  The cars in question, in alphabetical order, were an Enzo Ferrari, Koenigsegg CCX, Maserati MC12, Pagani Zonda F Clubsport, and Porsche Carrera GT (the Turbo's big brother).  These five – worth a cool $4.25 million in total - are each arguably one of the fastest cars ever made.  Which would win?

The CCX, the most expensive car in the group, took the longest to complete a lap – fast in a straight line, but the peaky way in which the power is delivered made it challenging to control.  Next up was the Porsche Carrera GT, with the lap in 7:28.71 - meaning that Basseng matched the time set by factory driver Walter Röhrl in the final stages of the car’s development (...and beat the 911 Turbo's time by 12 seconds, and the Nissan's by 10...)  Third quickest was the Enzo Ferrari, with a very impressive 7:25.21.  It might have been able to go quicker – but the electronic dampers at the rear of the car stopped working, on two separate laps on different days. The time is a tribute to Basseng’s perseverance and skill.  Second quickest was the Pagani, a bespoke creation of a small Italian niche builder, its enormous 7.3 liter Mercedes engine contributed to a remarkable time of 7:24.65.  That’s an average of more than 103mph, on a track which has blind crests and turns, bumps and jumps, and almost no run-off areas.

Maserati MC12And the winner was...  the Maserati MC12, the fastest production car made (at least on a track :), and the King of Nürburgring.  The MC12 posted an incredible 7:24.29, not only fastest of the group but also setting a new production car lap record in the process.  Awesome.

Despite churning out over 600hp, the Maserati's V-12 was actually the least powerful in the bunch (by way of comparison, the CCX has 901hp!), and the MC12 was also the heaviest car!  The aerodynamics, handling, and balance were the difference, as Basseng could stay on the throttle longer and more consistently all the way around the track.


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