In early August, Lucid Motors brought a Lucid Air prototype to Laguna Seca International Raceway and definitively smashed the standing lap-speed records set with the Jaguar I-Pace, Tesla Model S and Tesla Model 3. The record was set during testing sessions at the race track, it was driven by a Lucid Chassis & Vehicle Dynamics engineer, and the car was set up more-or-less the same as Lucid’s latest showroom intent. The difference is that a full roll-cage and fire suppression system was installed in the cabin, and the car was fitted with high temperature brake pads.
In August, Jaguar claimed to have set a lap-speed record at Laguna Seca with the performance version of the Jaguar I-Pace. Jaguar’s lap-time of 1:48.18 is very good, but within a second of the standing record lap times.
In July at the 10th anniversary REFUEL race, two lap time records were set. A Tesla Model S was driven by David Lickfold for a 1:47.671 lap speed, and a Tesla Model 3 was driven by Cameron Rogers for a 1:48.667 lap speed. Previous lap speed records, in the neighborhood of 1:50.883 seconds to 1:48.917, had been set in previous years by Joe Nuxoll and Aaron Bailey driving Tesla Roadsters and Tesla Model S’s in previous years of the REFUEL event.
The Model 3 driven by Cameron Rogers was not a Performance model. He did make significant settings changes in traction control and the like, as well as swap in racing tires. It’s likely that a Performance Model 3 would do better than this. Perhaps the Gen2 Tesla Roadster will do even better?
Bottom line is that until Lucid Motors went to Laguna Seca, the top lap speed at Laguna Seca for street-legal OEM electric cars was in the neighborhood of 1:47-1:50.
What did Lucid Motors achieve?
Watch through to the end of that video and you learn their driver scored a 1:41.67 lap time. This is an astonishing 7 seconds or so faster than the best lap times previously seen at Laguna Seca.
Next they swapped the stock tires for a set of Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R road-legal track tires, and scored a lap time of a time of 1:39.30. That’s about 9 seconds faster than the standing lap time record.
One difference is that Lucid seems to have hired a better driver than Jaguar. In Lucid’s blog post there is a second video showing a full lap around Laguna Seca. In that second video the driver made no mistakes, no corners where he swung wide, etc, while in the video Jaguar posted the driver clearly messed up on a couple corners.
Another little detail to this story must be raised. Earlier it was mentioned that a Tesla Model S driven by David Lickfold scored a 1:47.671 lap time. David Lickfold is an Engineering manager in Chassis and Vehicle Dynamics at, which company do you think he might work for? According to his profile on LinkedIn, David Lickfold works for Lucid Motors, and has a nice looking beard. Word on the street is that Lucid had modified their Model S with instrumentation etc to gather data. Clearly whatever they gathered, Lucid Motors put it to good use.
Laguna Seca International Raceway is turning out to be the place to set speed records that can be objectively compared between vehicles. This racetrack has had a long history of usage by high end electric vehicles that is matched by few other tracks. It means we can directly compare lap times between vehicles without requiring those vehicles be in a head-to-head race.
The REFUEL event mentioned earlier has been held for 10 years at Laguna Seca. Besides that event, for several years the FIM e-Power electric motorcycle race series came to Laguna Seca during the MotoGP, giving a chance for the best electric motorcycles of both Europe and North America to compete.
When Jaguar made their claim for a new lap speed record, those of who’ve watched that history knew that Jaguar was quibbling over a precise definition. Namely, Jaguar carefully said their car had “no modifications whatsoever” from the model they intend to sell to the public. The Model S and Model 3 times at REFUEL 10 were with cars that had a bit of modification.
Lucid Motors is making the same claim. The Lucid Air with which they scored the 1:41.67 lap time was also unmodified save for the roll cage. Where the Jaguar I-Pace was only slightly faster than the previous records, the Lucid Air was definitively faster by a large margin.
And we’re left with a final question. Will Tesla do anything official to attempt to challenge these records? So far the records set with Tesla vehicles were customer-owned vehicles lacking the backing of Tesla’s staff. Surely Tesla has some decent test drivers who could turn in a good performance? Surely Tesla could do something with a Performance Model 3 or the upcoming Gen2 Roadster?
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