When it comes to car evaluation, no single metric sums up vehicle dynamics better than a lap time. No other test combines cornering, acceleration, and braking while also revealing information about at-the-limit behavior. And no North American track provides the variety and challenges that Virginia International Raceway’s 4.1-mile Grand Course does, which is why Lightning Lap has been held here since 2006.
This year’s lineup resembles that of the first event, when we ran a Corvette Z06 but not one with a mid-engine 670-hp V-8. The first roster included a Cayman, though it was not as track-focused as this year’s Cayman GT4 RS.
There has been a massive increase in performance over the last 17 years, and not just for Porsches and Corvettes. The Honda Civic Type R comes standard with 315 horsepower. Toyota entered two vehicles: the rally-inspired GR Corolla and a Supra with a manual transmission. Hyundais did not appear in 2006, but two this year—the Kona N and Elantra N—returned times that may surprise you. BMW sent the M4 CSL and the electric i4 M50, both of which outperformed the 2006 M6 in the first event.
At two different price points, the new Subaru WRX and Audi RS3 offered a rally-car experience. Following some issues with the BMW M240i, Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing, and Volkswagen GTI last year, we invited them back for another chance to improve.