'Ring wars: How Tesla plans to beat Porsche at its own game
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Tesla plans to beat Porsche at its own game by breaking the new Taycan’s record for an electric production car at the Nurburgring circuit in Germany.
The American brand tested a new model at the circuit during an industry test on Thursday, sending a red Model S sedan onto a track occupied by next-generation performance cars from the likes of Porsche, Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
The sedan with new “P100D+” badges lapped at high speed on Thursday wearing high-performance Goodyear track day tyres, carbon ceramic brakes, a larger spoiler and wider bodywork not currently available to customers.
The prototype car could point to a new range-topping performance version pitched at driving enthusiasts.
It’s possible the car also has more power than standard models, though the silent nature of electric cars makes it difficult to guess whether engineers have coaxed a few more kilowatts from its dual electric motors.
Following the high-profile launch of Porsche’s Taycan electric car, Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeted on September 6 that his brand would tackle the Nurburgring this week.
While ex-Formula 1 driver Nico Rosberg offered to steer the car, Thursday testing was completed by Thomas Mutsch, a former Le Mans racer and Nurburgring regular who has competed at the circuit’s famous 24 Hour race since 2004.
We saw the car on track, where it completed a handful of laps in afternoon running — far fewer than rival machines such as the Taycan, next-generation BMW M3, Audi RS3 and Aston martin DBX.
The Tesla would complete one fast lap before cruising back to the pits at a much slower speed, making its lap time difficult to judge. Some customers and road testers have experienced problems with Tesla cars overheating on track, leading to slower lap times.
Porsche’s benchmark for a production electric car stands at 7min 42 sec, about 17 seconds slower than the latest Porsche 911.
Musk tweeted this week that Tesla “probably won’t try for best lap time this week as we need to review & tune Model S thoroughly for safety”, particularly near the Flugplatz section where cars can become airborne.
Tesla will also need to arrange time for a hot lap of the track, as timing and record attempts are prohibited during busy test days.