The Ford GT Blasted VIR’s Production Car Lap Record Without Really Trying To
The GT lapped Virginia International Raceway in 2:38.62, unintentionally setting a new production car record.
When Ford learned that one of its pre-production GT supercars had suffered mechanical issues during track testing a few months back, it sent another GT along with racing driver Billy Johnson to Virginia International Raceway in hopes of working out the kinks. While he was there, Johnson lapped the 647-horsepower Ford around VIR's Grand Course in a record-breaking 2:38.62. Up until that point, the fastest production car to lap the Virginia circuit was the Dodge Viper ACR, which managed a time of 2:40.02.
On a relative whim, Ford's supercar bested Mopar's mightiest (R.I.P.) on a 3.27-mile track by 1.4 seconds. We imagine more than a couple celebratory beers are being cracked open in Dearborn this weekend.
Speaking to Road & Track, Johnson (who also happens to be one of the drivers that piloted the GT at Le Mans for the past two years) says the day at VIR was hastily organized and the record was a complete accident. "It was a last minute deal. I think I had a two-day notice before I was on a plane to go up [to VIR]," said Johnson. "It was to validate an issue with another car ... We just happened to turn a fast time when we were testing something else."
What's more, the hardware on hand was similarly unprepared for record-breaking. Johnson says that the GT in question lacked the weight savings that comes with Competition Series models, with a full air conditioning system, radio, non-titanium exhaust, and all of the associated weight in tow. Road & Track also reports that the record-breaking lap happened with only two other Ford employees present, in stark contrast to the full squad of mechanics and engineers usually in attendance for official lap record attempts.
Given its demonstrated ability to shatter records on just a casual day out, we'd like to see what the Ford GT can do with a little less weight and little more conviction. We reached out to Ford about whether it plans to take the GT back to Virginia to top its own record and will update this story if we get a response.
UPDATE [01/29/2018]: In an email, a Ford Performance spokesperson told The Drive: "While Billy Johnson made an unofficial production vehicle lap record at VIR with the Ford GT, it was purely chance as he was there for other purposes and just happened to turn a fast lap. It is very exciting that Billy was able to put down that kind of lap with just a small support crew, less than ideal circuit conditions, and driving the Ford GT on that track for the first time."
The Ford rep also tells us that the company currently has no plans to bring the GT back to VIR for another go.