Though the C6 Z06 is regarded as one of the best track toys on the market, it takes a talented driver to extract all its performance. Its reputation for a spiky breakaway and the immensely long hood make it tricky for anyone but the highly experienced track rats to master, but its 7.0-liter powerplant still make it a weapon in anyone’s hands.
In This Corner: The Corvette C6 Z06
This is truer nowhere than Laguna Seca, where plenty of two long uphill straights reward V8 grunt. Yet, it seems that a committed driver in a machine with half the power sent to the front axle can still keep up with the big ‘Vette, provided they do everything correctly.
In This Corner: The Honda FK8 Civic Type R
The driver manning the camera car, an FK8 Civic Type R, goes by the name of Steven Kronemberger. His flowing style is a treat to witness, as is his commendable bravery on the anchors. This ace has all the finesse needed to exploit the turbocharged powerplant, which is quite tough on tires, as we learned recently. His ability to get the power to the ground without frying the fronts is invaluable, especially when the rival car is in another league where straights are concerned. It’s almost comical how the Z06 pulls six car lengths down the front straightaway, but Kronemberger is the braver of the two when braking is in order and can consistently reel the Chevy back in on the second lap.
His late-braking is helped by a Miata ahead, which dogs the Corvette’s run through the Andretti hairpin and into Turn 3. In the tight infield section between Turns 2 and 4, the response and broad powerband of the K20C1 motor is enough to keep the big C6 in Kronemberger’s sights. Let’s not forget the Civic Type R was, until recently, not known for much power—let alone enough to keep a well-driven Corvette close.
The Corvette’s Natural Advantage on the Uphill Straights
Of course, the straight following Turn 4 and the uphill section up to the Corkscrew go to the Corvette. There’s really no arguing with the thrust of the LS7, even if the corner exits out of Turn 5 is a little ragged (2:43). To give him credit, he has to administer 500 horsepower on the sandswept and crowned surface. Nonetheless, Kronemberger keeps up with him at the exit itself; only when he’s finished turning does the gap widen.
Smooth Control of the Civic Type R takes the Prize
While the Corvette’s owner can get away with throwing the car around in the slower sections, the long downhill section following the Corkscrew rewards calmer, patient, smoother driving. Kronemberger’s assertive yet smooth touch helps him claw back two car lengths in the fast, off-camber Turn 9, which punishes people who try to bite off too much before the apex. The adverse camber clearly catches out the ‘Vettes owner, who then, possibly a bit rattled, brakes a heartbeat too long into Turn 10. Knowing he’s been beat, the Corvette’s driver gives the man in the Honda behind a point-by.
Kronemberger turned a 1:42 lap, even with some traffic. If that doesn’t make your hair stand on end, you might need to consult a psychiatrist. The potential for Honda’s bigger, punchier, and somewhat unconventional Civic Type R can’t be underestimated, and if driving talent can make the difference between it and a Z06, well, it’s going to go far.