The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE has surprised us time and time again with its performance, but the recent Car and Driver Lightning Lap test really put the coupe’s track capabilities into perspective.
The magazine’s editors were able to lap the racetrack in 2:45 flat in their 10-speed automatic Shock yellow Camaro ZL1 1LE, faster than a handful of much pricier vehicles that have participated in Lightning Lap in recent years. Most notably, the Camaro ZL1 1LE’s time was a tenth faster than the one the magazine set in the Ferrari 488 GTB at VIR for Lightning Lap back in 2016. Of course, many factors play a role in lap time, from driver skill, to track condition, weather, and tire and brake wear, but it serves as testament to how capable General Motors‘ Alpha platform truly is for the $74,000 Chevy to be anywhere close to a six-figure supercar like the Ferrari around a twisty track like VIR.
Additionally, the Camaro’s time was way faster than the 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S’ lap time of 2:46.8, which C&D posted during its Lightning Lap test back in 2017. The Porsche lacks the downforce of the Camaro and its Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires aren’t quite as performance-focused as the Goodyear Eagle F1 tires that come stock on the ZL1 1LE, but again, it’s a near $200,000 car, while the Chevy is well shy of $100,000. The Camaro was also faster than the 2018 Porsche 911 GT3, in which C&D could only manage 2:47 in back in 2018. It wasn’t far off the circuit-devouring Lamborghini Huracán Performante, either, which had a fastest lap of 2:44 at Lightning Lap last year.
It’s worth pointing out that before Ford returned to VIR with a professional driver to post its then-record setting lap of 2:38.2 in the Ford GT, C&D editors could only muster a time of 2:45.5—also slower than the Camaro. We imagine the magazine plays it a bit safe when driving the six-figure supercars for Lightning Lap (not that we blame them) which could play a role in the slightly slower-than-expected lap times. It certainly didn’t hold back when testing the McLaren Senna this year, though, which smashed the VIR lap record with a time of 2:34.9 in Lightning Lap this year—knocking the Corvette ZR1 from the top of the leaderboard.
As another interesting aside, C&D brought a six-speed manual Camaro ZL1 1LE out to VIR for Lightning Lap in 2017 and set a fastest time of 2:45.7—so it seems the 10-speed automatic transmission is worth around seven tenths at the track.
Check out the onboard video from the Camaro ZL1 1LE’s fastest lap of VIR in the video embedded below.