Setting the fastest lap on any race track is worth its share of bragging rights, but some are worth more than others. Like the Nürburgring Nordschleife, for example. Or the Top Gear test track. Or, on this side of the pond, Laguna Seca.
The Mazda Raceway near Monterey, California, is one of the most challenging circuits in the world. It's got a double-apex hairpin at the start, an off-camber sweep to the left and of course the dreaded Corkscrew that drops five and a half stories with tight turns at top and bottom. Little wonder, then, that its lap record is a subject of such contention.
The record was set at 1:07.722 by Helio Castroneves in 2000 behind the wheel of a Penske Champ Car. And that remains the fastest official time since the ones that followed were not set during an officially-sanctioned race weekend. But, in 2006, Ricardo Zonta drove the Toyota TF106 there to an unofficial new record of 1:06.039. Sebastian Bourdais took it back for the Champ Car series the following year at 1:05.880. But nowFerrari has taken the unofficial crown at 1:05.786.
The record lap was set during the Ferrari Racing Days event by veteran scuderia test driver and Le Mans winner Marc Gené, behind the wheel of the Ferrari F2003-GA, the car named for the late Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli with which Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello took seven grand prix wins and both titles in the 2003 Formula One World Championship. And now it can go down in history with another accolade to its history.
by Noah Joseph