Ford Beat Us

Search YouTube for "CT500 VIR." You'll find a video of Ford SVT engineer and lead test driver Gene Martindale lapping VIR in a GT500 equipped with a racing seat and a five-point belt at 2:58.5.

FORD SHELBY CT500 ^ 3:04.0

Shelby GT500S have never fared well in this test. The old iron-block engine repeatedly suffered from heat soak—sapping power— and the car's tires wouldn't last more than one lap. The 2011 updates—including a retuned suspension, new tires, an aluminum engine block, and a more efficient intercooler— have paid major dividends here, lopping nearly two seconds from the GTsoo's 2007 record of 3:05.9. At 3824 pounds, the 2011 car is also lighter than that one by 84. It's still a portly beast, but it handles like a coupe that is closer to the 3500-pound mark. There is some body roll but not a lot. And despite its solid rear axle, the GT500 brews confidence by the gallon.

It excels in sectors three and five, where it keeps pace with pricier LL4 participants. If the seats did a better job of keeping the upper and lower body in place, times in sectors two and four would shrink drastically. A certain amount of steering-wheel control is sacrificed when your arms have to work harder to keep you in place than the seat does.

Even a racing bucket and a five-point belt wouldn't bring out the absolute best in the GT500. A perfect lap requires repeatability. The shifter's throws, for one, are unnecessarily short, and getting a lap together with an error-free two-to-three shift didn't happen. Also, the 550-hp V-8 revs quickly to its 6250 - rpm redline. At the right-hander leading into the "Snake," the GT500 is, if driven correctly, right on its rev limiter at the apex. Managing a midcorner upshift while maintaining directional control is tough to pull off.

3:12.5 NISSAN 3507 TRACK (LLI. 11/06) 3:12.0 NISSAN NISMO 370Z (LL2.2/10) 3:11.7 BMW Z4 M COUPE (LIZ 8/07) 3:11.2 AUDI RS 4 (113.8/07) 3:11.1 FORD SHELBY GT500 (LL2.11/06) 3:10.8 AUDI S4 (LL2.2/10) 3:10.6 MITSUBISHI LANCER 40 february 2011 = caranddriver.com

AT 3824 POUNDS, THE 2011 GT500 IS STILL A PORTLY BEAST, BUT IT HANDLES LIKE A COUPE THAT IS CLOSER TO THE 3500 POUND MARK.

EVOLUTION SE (LL2.2/11) 3:W.5 BMW 335i COUPE (LL2,8/07) 3:10.0 BMW M6 (113,11/06) 3:09.5 CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (LL2.2/10) 3:09.5 PORSCHE CAYMAN S (LL2.11/06) 3:09.3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE 251 (LL2.11/06) 3:09.2 LOTUS ELISE (112.11/06)

caranddriver.com : february ¿1) 11

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