Elon Musk’s mission to beat the Porsche Taycan at the Nurburgring looks to have claimed its first victory. According to Road and Track, an eye-witness has clocked a Model S setting a 07:23 lap, making it nearly 20 seconds faster than the Porsche EV.
This was during an industry pool session during which manufacturer timing is banned, on a track layout that doesn’t allow for flying laps. But Tesla is thought to have a private session booked this Saturday, and there’s no reason to doubt a repeat of that stunning lap.
As with most manufacturer Nurburgring lap times, there are caveats, but in the case of this Model S, they are big ones. The car is running a prototype ‘Plaid Mode’ powertrain, and while this three-motor setup (two motors at the rear, one at the front) will make production eventually, the Model S has other modifications we’re much less likely to see on the configurator.
According to people on the ground, it’s been fully stripped out, and as seen in YouTube footage and spy shots, it’s sporting also sorts of aerodynamic additions including a big rear spoiler. Road & Track’s eyewitness reported seeing big carbon ceramic brakes sitting under wider wheels, the latter wearing extreme Goodyear Eagle F1 Supersport RS tyres.
Speaking to our friendly neighbourhood rubber expert Jon Benson at TyreReviews.co.uk, we’re told that judging by the tread pattern, they’re more likely to be Eagle F1 Supercar 3Rs. This is important, as the Porsche - while also a prototype - ran the Pirelli P Zeroes the production car is fitted with from the factory. Both of the aforementioned Goodyear options are semi-slick, track-focused boots that you’d never normally see on a Model S. The 3R will give the car a big leg up compared to the Taycan, while the RS would help the Tesla take huge chunks out of Porsche’s time.
However, Elon Musk has bullishly claimed that the reported lap time is “just a start,” and that a production version of the Plaid Model S - said to arrive September/October next year - will actually go faster. If Tesla can do that with normal summer tyres, it’ll be a huge achievement.
The Nordschleife exploits of the Model S thus far are impressive, particularly as Tesla seems to have nailed battery heat management. It’s just a shame there might have to be an asterisk on the end of the eventual time this prototype sets.