Tesla claims record at Laguna Seca in modified Model S
When Porsche finally unveiled its Porsche Taycan last week following its record-setting lap at Nurburgring, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was quick to outlay plans of his own involving electric sports cars and the notoriously challenging circuit. This tit-for-tat didn’t quite pan out as planned, but Tesla is now claiming a lap record a little closer to home after deploying a prototype Model S at California’s Laguna Seca.
“Model S on Nürburgring next week,” tweeted Musk following the Taycan unveiling, which you might take to mean that a Tesla Model S would literally be driven around Nürburgring in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate this week as part of some sort of record attempt.
Not so. At least not for now. The timeline surrounding such an attempt appears to have been a little off. And well, the location too, give or take 9,000 km. Musk says that while a Model S is indeed at the Green Hell, the team first needs to spend some time tuning it to safely negotiate the circuit and in particular its Flugplatz section, involving a crest where cars are known to get some serious hang time.
Meanwhile, an R&D prototype of the Tesla Model S has been put to work at Laguna Seca, clocking a lap time of 1:36.555. This is a full second faster than the 1:37.54 lap record set last year by Jaguar XE SV Project 8, which would indeed make the Tesla the fastest four-door sedan (electric or otherwise) around the 2.2-mile race track (3.5-km).
Tesla says the prototype used for the testing has been fitted out with that it calls a Plaid powertrain and chassis. This is one step up from the automaker’s Ludicrous mode and is still around a year from production. It will be available on the Model S, X and Roadster, but not on the Model 3 or Y.
You can check out the Laguna Seca hot lap in the video below.
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This is a serious power delivery deficit that indicates the Tesla's cooling systems still have a long way to go.
I also suspect, though cannot prove, that this lap was accomplished on near racing tyres. The controllability, lack of squealing during obvious slides, and apparent lack of tread block deformation slip angles at max cornering loads would suggest these doughnuts are about as far from production as one could possibly get away with. I would guess they're DOT-legal but only just.
So, in short, this is a crafted campaign to not-so-subtly shift all manner of rules in the game that Porsche was playing at the Nordschleife in an effort to appear more equal. Prevaricating about the bush, as it were.
All that behind us, I think it's great that Tesla and Porsche are both advancing the art that we can all hope to enjoy in the future. These are all tremendous achievements on all sides. I just wish Tesla was still saying "How can we do better than those other people in the future?" instead of sort of inventing "Well we lost the hotdog eating contest but our chair unfolding was clearly on point!" as some kind of weird face-saving.