When GM test driver Aaron Link went 7:41.27 at the Nürburgring in the 2012 Camaro ZL1 back in 2011, it was hard to imagine another production Camaro would be able to exceed that already impressive time. The BMW M3, several Porsche 911 models, C5 Z06, 2009 Cadillac CTS-V, and even the 2006 Corvette Z06 all sit unhappily behind the ZL1 on the hierarchy of elapsed times for the famous 12.9-mile Nordschleife course. But then came the ZL1’s track-born cousin, the 2014 Camaro Z/28: carbon-ceramic brake rotors, 19-inch lightweight forged wheels, R-compound Pirelli tires, a 500-horsepower LS7, helical gear limited slip differential, and suspension enhancements that include adjustable shocks.
With in-house testing and development long since completed, GM headed back to the Nürburgring with the Z/28, thought to be the ultimate proving grounds for handling, and the benchmark to which all supercars are compared. This consensus has been achieved because the ‘ring is such a lengthy track with a large variety of turns.
"One of the challenges of testing at the 'Ring is that the track is so long that conditions can change radically in a single lap," said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. "Adam Dean, the development driver for Z/28, did a heroic job driving in deteriorating conditions. Based on telemetry data from our test sessions, we know the Z/28 can be as much as six seconds faster on a dry track."
After 10 hours and 1,000 miles of testing at Nordschleife, the fastest lap completed was a blazing 7:37.40. In the rain. Yes, in the rain. That’s faster than the Porsche 911 Carrera S, Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 and Ford GT, and on pace with some of the world’s quickest supercars. Each lap was said to take less than eight minutes, despite having to pass slower traffic (not a closed course like during internal testing and at VIR), and part of a 24-hour endurance test that simulates a year’s worth of track use.
“Passing the 24-Hour Test is a requirement for all cars we call 'track capable,’” said Wayne McConnell, director of global vehicle performance. "The test pushes the car at 10/10ths on the track for a total of 24 hours. During the test the only mechanical changes allowed are replacing the brakes and tires.”
This 24-Hour Test is conducted in segments over the course of several days and over different tracks. Performance is monitored, and in order to be counted towards the 24-hour total, each test lap must be within 2-percent of a target lap speed. This test was first used in the early 1990s on the C4 Corvette, measuring only 15 channels of data. Today Chevrolet is measuring 130 channels on the Camaro Z/28.
“Our cars' performance and capability have advanced tremendously in the past 20 years, which required us to continually improve the parameters of the 24-Hour Test," said McConnell. "Today’s test pushes the car harder than the vast majority of customers ever will. As a result, when we call a car ‘track capable’ we are confident that it will perform reliably and consistently for our customers.”