The Nürburgring Debate: Do Lap Times Matter?
There is no argument that the "Ring" has been the standard of performance for manufacturers and tuners alike since its inception. It provides the ultimate combination of elevation, turns and straights. For decades, no production car had been able to break the fabled 7-minute barrier - until on September 10, 2013, Porsche came in and laid down an insane 06:57 with its 918 hypercar. Fast forward to the beginning of this month...
The Lamborghini Performante danced around the Ring in a sub 7-minute lap and enthusiasts everywhere sprang out in debate. Along with it comes discussion about the significance of Nürburgring times, do they matter or do they not. Not since Nissan recorded 7.26 in the GT-R debut, back in 2008, has there been this much conversation regarding a Ring time.
It’s important to note that no third party regulates Ring times, opening the door to a lot of controversy. In order to claim a time, manufacturers provide video footage or, most recently, data logging to provide “proof," but it’s basically an "on your honor" type deal. Pundits that have questioned manufacturer Ring times often point to items that aren't normally a factory option, but give an extra advantage on the Ring. Things such as special tires or a specific setup which can allow a production car to run a faster time.
For Lamborghini, the whispers came almost immediately after posting a blisteringly fast 06:52.01 in the Huracan Performante. When you consider that's a full 5-seconds faster than the Porsche 918, things become to come into perspective. Of particular concern is the Performante isn’t a million dollar hypercar, it's Lamborghini’s entry-level vehicle (albeit the sportiest version).
Skeptics and haters immediately dubbed it fake, some going as far as to analyze the footage and provide a counterpoint - saying editing appeared to be spotty and that it was impossible for this time to be true. This was later proven incorrect, as Lamborghini provided the full data logging for proof a few days after their initial announcement.
So why do Ring times matter so much? In my opinion, it’s “magazine” racing to an extent. Having a lap number from the Ring gives an owner bragging rights of "my car is faster than yours around the Ring," it's simply a number to point at during discussion with friends. In reality though, it’s not like many potential owners:
- Have the driving skill to pull the same time.
- Are going to take their car to the Ring to show people what’s up.
Some say Ring times are a sheer marketing point for manufacturers, which I tend to agree with towards a specific target market. Will Ring times matter to the entry-level super car enthusiast such as the 488/Huracán owners? Yes, I would say so. It’s almost a “bang for the buck” situation at that point.
All above photos courtesy of Lamborghini.
But for the owners that are paying north of $500K for a vehicle? I would say no. Prospective owners of a Pagani Huayra and the like aren’t going to balk because it doesn’t pull a sub-7 minute Ring time. Ring performance isn't a deciding factor for cars of this level, it's a completely different playing field.
After my first trip to the Ring I found it hilarious that people were asking me what my time was… seriously? I drove it in the rain and was simply trying to stay on the track and not embarrass myself. But it's this very mystique about Ring times that is what keeps people talking.
Whether it’s 7-Minute Abs, 7-minutes in heaven or a sub 7-minute Ring time, 7 minutes seems to hold some kind of significance to everyone. What do you think? Do Ring times matter? I’d love to hear from you.