The entire automotive world is on its toes to see just how much faster the new, mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette is compared to the old, front-engined model, but with the first 2020 C8s only just leaving for dealerships, almost nobody has had a chance to compare the two head-to-head. Nobody, that is, aside from thriller novelist and Corvette enthusiast C.W. Lemoine, who obtained Performance Data Recorder files from a 2019 C7 ZR1 and a 2020 C8 Z51 driven at the same track: Nevada's Spring Mountain Motor Resort.
Lemoine sourced the ZR1 onboard from his own laps of Spring Mountain last November, and the Z51 footage from the editor of Corvette Forum Derin Richardson, who, like our Robb Holland, tested the car at Spring Mountain earlier this year.
"At first I was thinking [the C8] was just going to be crushed [by my C7] ZR1, because I ran about 1:46.9, which was faster on that day than the hot lap with the instructor," Lemoine said in his video. "He had a 1:47-something, so I thought, hell, that’s pretty good, this should crush the C8. What you'll find is... it doesn't."
To no-one's surprise, the more powerful ZR1 rockets away from the C8 on the straights, ultimately making it the faster of the two cars. The Z51, however, counters the ZR1's pure power with finesse on the brakes and in low-speed corners, where it matches or even beats the ZR1. In fast corners, the Z51 and ZR1 both pull upward of 1.5 lateral G, though in some sweepers, the C8's front end washes out, slowing it significantly. Even so, at the finish line, the C7 ZR1 finishes with only a couple of car lengths on the C8 Z51.
Incongruities between the two Corvettes' tires emphasize just how narrow this gap is, as the Z51 runs the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, and the ZR1, the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2. Both are high-performance summer tires, though the 4S is accepted to be the less sticky of the two. This means that on equal rubber, one can't help but imagine that the C8 Z51 can inch even closer to the C7 ZR1. And who knows what all could happen with a pro driver behind the wheel rather two somewhat skilled enthusiasts?
Even so, the C8's showing against the meanest front-engined Corvette ever sold by General Motors was nothing short of strong...and it shows that with the base C8's shortcomings addressed, the new Corvette is set to evolve into one hell of a Porsche-killing performance car.
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h/t: Corvette Forum