Before we begin, let me admit something. I have a cynical world-view, based on decades inside the industry. I believe *nearly* every single manufacturer cheats at Nürburgring laptimes, in the same way that I believe every winning raceteam cheats in racing. “Cheating” is mostly just innovation. It’s inventing technology and methods before the other teams think of it, and before the rulemakers can hit it with a legislative hammer.
Did you already watch the Porsche Cayenne onboard Nürburgring “lap record” video above? Good. It’s pretty awesome. (And no, I don’t know what the PTM and PTV+ overlays represent, though I could guess!)
I welcomed the recent push by the owners of the Nürburgring to clarify and legitimise 30 years of mirky lap records. The Nürburgring say that in order to claim a lap record over the Nürburgring, all cars participating must be fully production-specification examples of road-going models:
In addition to timekeeping based on calibrated measuring technology, official record attempts as well as attempts to clock a lap are always supervised by a notary. In addition to timekeeping supervision, the vehicles are scrutineered with regard to their series-production state and driver, among other things. Scrutineering regarding a vehicle’s series-production state is not required for racing cars, special vehicles and prototypes resp. concept cars.
So, please imagine my interest when I read this morning how a stripped, caged and bucket-seated Cayenne completed a *very* fast lap on Monday afternoon’s private test session. A model that hasn’t even been launched yet, which means a specification for this car isn’t even public yet. Surely that’s a cool laptime, but it’s not an official lap record for roadcars, is it? Er, not according to Porsche, who claim thusly:
In the official rankings of Nürburgring GmbH, the time was certified by a notary public and now stands as a new record in the ‘SUV, off-road vehicle, van, pick-up’ category.
An impressive laptime for an SUV with a roll-cage, racing seats and harnesses. Does the production car come with those too? How about the spring rates? Or the suspension bushings? Or the wheel sizes? Or the boost pressure in that V8?
I guess these are questions too searching, and the element of transparency has been lost. Here’s the official answer:
To protect its driver, the record-breaking Cayenne was equipped with a racing seat and roll cage. The notary public also confirmed the series production status and the series weight of the still lightly camouflaged SUV, which will celebrate its world premiere shortly.
I just went to the Nürburgring lap-record list and checked that claim (at 0850 on June 17th) and the Porsche is, notably, still absent. Considering that Nürburgring can’t even say what this Cayenne is called, that’s hardly surprising.
I also couldn’t help but notice that the official press photography for this lap record is MONTHS out of date, showing an evening shoot with bare and barren trees behind it. Did Porsche have some unexpected difficulties beating the Audi RS Q 8 Panzerwagen? Is that why they were so keen on publicising a laptime before the model even has a name? Putting the carriage in front of the horse has been a Porsche trick for years, but this is just too weird…