2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 at Lightning Lap 2021

2020 chevrolet corvette stingray z51

Marc UrbanoCar and Driver

Lap Time: 2:49.0

Class: LL3 | Base: $69,480 | As Tested: $86,865
Power and Weight: 495 hp • 3665 lb • 7.4 lb/hp
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S ZP, F:245/35ZR-19 (89Y) TPC R: 305/30ZR-20 (99Y) TPC

Years ago, Ferrari engineers described VIR as tricky—very tricky. No other track in the country has as many different kinds of corners. Uphill? Check. Downhill? Got that. On- and off-camber in the same corner? Yup. How about off-camber, downhill, and blind all in one? We’ve got a bingo. VIR is a trial for cars and drivers, which is why Chevy engineers subjected the C8 Corvette to countless development laps here.

An obsession with lap times is why the Corvette’s 495-hp 6.2-liter V-8 is now behind the front seats. Sure, the mid-engine placement helps acceleration, improves handling, and spices up the look, but lap times are the main reason why. The move paid off, with the C8 lapping VIR 4.8 seconds quicker than its direct predecessor, the 2014 C7 Stingray, a car with an identical power-to-weight ratio.

2020 chevrolet corvette stingray z51

Marc UrbanoCar and Driver

The time comes from the toughest corners of the track. In the confidence-testing high-speed Climbing Esses, the C8 averages 126.0 mph, a 5.6-mph improvement over the C7. In the infield squiggles, there’s a point where the new Vette is going 15.0 mph faster than the old. Credit the C8’s trustier feel and balanced handling, along with gains in tire grip.

Previous C8 track tests left us wishing for more front-end traction. But around VIR, the Vette turns in beautifully and maintains its purchase. Slipping into understeer seems more the fault of the driver than the chassis. Lap after lap, the brakes feel inexhaustible. The annoyances that distract you on the street—the square steering wheel, the poor rear visibility—melt away on track. We do wish that Chevy would let you pair the lightest steering effort with the raciest Performance Traction Management mode, but the heavy helm isn’t a big deal; the C8 obeys on first command and never puts up a fight.

Skip the luxuries. A $69,480 Stingray Z51 with magnetorheological dampers and Competition Sport seats is the best value to navigate the trickery of VIR or any racetrack.

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