Power goes a long way at Laguna Seca. When everyone’s consumables are in good shape, talent levels are similar, and there’s a clear track ahead, a Camaro ZL1 should streak away from just about any well-driven S2000 along the track’s long straights. However, a possible difference in driving ability and worn front tires can level the playing field.
Carrying Mid-Corner Speeds
Gary Yeung’s S2000 is being pushed perfectly in these hot laps. His driving isn’t ragged, but there are a lot of committed entries with late turn-ins and lots of mid-corner steering corrections. Best of all, he can drive at this pace consistently. Tuned by Elite Performance for repeatable hard laps, a Cusco LSD, JRZ suspension, and 17×9.5-inch WedsSport TC-105N wheels wrapped in Yokohama A052 tires give him much-needed predictability.
That charging style makes a difference over the course of a lap—especially since there are some fast corners there which reward this bold driving. With a little traffic and a few missed braking zones, Yeung keeps the Camaro in its crosshairs, and as a result, we can see precisely where the two differ.
However, as the two climb the hills, there’s simply no competing. Despite having Brian Crower Stage II cams and a tank full of E85, the S2000 simply doesn’t have the firepower needed to compete on straightaways—especially those with an incline. Even when Yeung spaces himself comfortably far enough from the Camaro’s bumper to enjoy an uninterrupted run out of Turn 11 (4:02), the Camaro can still stretch a significant lead. Sometimes, you can’t argue with cubes.
Testing the Fronts
The tables turn in Yeung’s favor when they have to negotiate long, tightening corners. Turns 9 and 10 test the fronts more than any other corner at the 2.2-mile track, save for the Andretti Hairpin/Turn 2, perhaps. After the Camaro misses the first apex in the Andretti Hairpin (and nearly running off the track at 2:03), Yeung once again gets himself back into contention.
Observe the way the Camaro can’t maintain pace through Turn 9: the long, downhill left following the Corkscrew (1:58). There, the front’s are tested and can be easily overwhelmed depending on the entry—just what happens to the Camaro. There, Yeung utilizes the S2000’s sharp front end—arguably its best strength—to close a huge gap through the decreasing radius, off-camber corner. He turns in early, keeps the fronts on the verge of sliding with patient throttle control, then mats the throttle at the perfect moment for an aggressive launch.
By driving forcefully but cleanly, hitting his marks, carrying great mid-corner speeds, Yeung can keep the punchy Chevrolet in his sights. Even with these two suffering their own shortcomings, this battle demonstrates just how a fighting spirit can make the difference when the conditions are right.