The Pagani Zonda R has done it, it has snatched the Nurburgring record out of Ferrari’s hands and smashed it into pieces. 6 minutes 58 seconds was the time to beat, previously set by Raffaele De Simone – one of Ferrari’s test drivers – in a Ferrari 599XX. The Pagani Zonda R did it in an astonishing 6 minutes 47 seconds.
Although the Pagani Zonda R is hardly an everyday road car, the category the record is placed in is known as the ‘track car’ category. It’s basically for race cars that have been derived from road cars, except this is not allowed to race in any significant series, so it’s not even a race car, it’s just a track car to have fun in on private days, much like the Ferrari 599XX.
The now-famous 20.8km circuit hasn’t always been as highly regarded as it is nowadays. Although manufacturers have been testing at the track for years, it wasn’t until Nissan presented a comparable and competitive interest in actual lap times to the public. Nissan initially claimed to beat Porsche’s 911 turbo factory lap time in their GT-R with a time of 7:29.03 on April 17, 2008. Porsche and its enthusiasts were skeptical. Nissan then repeated the record with motoring publication, Best Motoring, video cameras on board and shortened the time to 7:26.70 using another stock, factory specified car, only six days later. The amount of hype this presented, manufacturers, worldwide, stepped up to the challenge and saw the track as a great marketing opportunity and a great way to express their car’s integrity as a true sports car.
The fastest street-legal, closed-cabin car to ever lap the ‘Ring, so far, is the Gumpert Apollo. It has set a time of 7:11.5 with Florian Gruber – German racing driver – behind the wheel for an article in Sport Auto magazine. The Gumpert, strangely, is a street-legal car as opposed to the others, which look less extravagant than the Apollo.
The Pagani Zonda R only weighs 1070kg and is powered by a 560kW, AMG 6.0-litre V12. Only 15 of them will ever be made, but with a price tag well over $1 million, it’s hardly a discount, end-of-financial-year special now is it. You do get a lot of adrenalin for your money though; 0-100km/h acceleration savage enough to displace your spine in just 2.7 seconds and a top speed of 350km/h.