We’re saying "may have" because at the time of writing, there was nothing official about the so-called record

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Elon Musk has had a tooth to pick with Porsche and more specifically the Taycan EV ever since before Stuttgart’s first-ever electric sports had the chance to make its online debut. But now, the battle has moved to the Nurburgring, where a heavily-modded Tesla Model S reportedly beat the Taycan’s (which was a pre-production prototype, to be clear) lap time set earlier this summer.

Is this what Tesla was doing on the Nurburgring?

Well, the answer is pretty much yes. According to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, Tesla has been preparing intensively for a record-breaking Nurburgring lap time that would dethrone the current EV king, Porsche’s Taycan. As you surely know by now, the pre-series Taycan lapped the ‘Ring in 7 minutes and 42 seconds with test driver Lars Kern behind the wheel and by the looks of it, Elon Musk took it personally. That, or he spotted the immense publicity potential of a stunt that involves a Tesla setting a new lap time on the Nurburgring.

According to the same source, Tesla brought a provisional workshop and two highly-modified Model S cars at the Nordschleife. Moreover, although former F1 driver Nico Rosberg offered to step behind the wheel and tackle the ‘Ring, Tesla chose Thomas Mutsch, who is considered to be a “proven Nordschleife expert.” In case the name doesn’t ring any bells, know that Thomas Mutsch is a VLN driver and also piloted Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus’ SCG 003 supercar. Joining Mutsch is Andreas Simonsen, who races for the Porsche Team Huber, and Carl Rydquist.

The Tesla Model S spotted on the Nurburgring

The Tesla Model S Plaid May Have Beaten the Taycan Around the Nurburgring Exterior Spyshots
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Road and Track reports that two Model S prototypes were seen lapping the famed circuit. The thing is, however, that they’re not exactly the kind of Model S you’d have in your driveway. Citing unnamed sources, R&T mentions that the two EVs are “stripped to the gunwales” and feature stripped out interiors devoid of unnecessary gear: that is seats, harnesses, and the lot. Moreover, the same outlet is “nearly certain” that these prototypes are of the Plaid ilk Elon Musk was referring to on social media when he tweeted that “the only thing beyond Ludicrous is Plaid.”

This new trim level is touted to be based around an arrangement of three electric motors, with two of them powering each of the rear wheels and the third sitting on the front axle, from where it spins the front wheels. Other than the new powertrain configuration, the two particular Model S sedans that took the Nurburgring by storm feature extra fender flares, wider wheels, and top-spec Brembo brakes that are mostly seen on exotic supercars.

The Tesla Model S Plaid May Have Beaten the Taycan Around the Nurburgring Exterior Spyshots
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Last but not least, courtesy of another tweet from Elon Musk, we know for sure that the Teslas seen at the Nurburgring feature a seven-seat cockpit. Other add-ons also include a roll cage, which is compulsory for such attempts, but also aero-boosting exterior bits and bobs. Tires are also crucial for such a run, and Car Throttle says that Tesla most likely opted for Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R tires, which are of the semi-slick ilk and developed specifically for track use. So, again, not something you’d see on the average Model S.

Coming back to the 7 minutes and 23 seconds time that’s been put forward by pretty much every automotive outlet in the world, it appears to the coming from so-called eyewitnesses and not from officials observers or anything close to that concept. At the moment, it is also unclear who was driving the allegedly lap record-setting Model S, but it could have been any of the three pro drivers we mentioned earlier. Moreover, as R&T points out, the incredible lap time was clocked in during an Industrial Pool session, which makes it even more impressive and hard to believe at the same time.

The Tesla Model S Plaid May Have Beaten the Taycan Around the Nurburgring Exterior Spyshots
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In case you’re not familiar with Industrial Pool lapping sessions on the Nurburgring, know that they’re scheduled events where manufacturers bring their R&D car prototypes on the track at the same time, which in turn helps them tweak various aspects of their driving dynamics.

Road and Track’s report also mentions that a timing session is to take place on Wednesday (September, 18), with another (private) one scheduled for Saturday (September, 21). Whether Tesla will be looking to attend those - and we have all the reasons to believe it will - is something we’ll surely find out in the near future.

Fastest Sedans Around Nurbugring
Subaru WRX STI Type RA NBR (non-street legal) 6:57.5
Jaguar XE SV Project 8 7:21.23
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 7:32
Porsche Panamera Turbo 7:38
Honda Civic Type R 7:43
Volvo S60 Polestar 7:51
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S 7:55
BMW M5 7:55
Subaru WRX STI 7:55
Cadillac CTS-V 7:59

Further Reading

2017 Tesla Model S Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Tesla Model S.

Source: Auto Motor und Sport

Tudor Rus
Assistant Content Manager - Automotive Expert - tudor@topspeed.com
Tudor’s first encounter with cars took place when he was only a child. Back then, his father brought home a Trabant 601 Kombi and a few years later, a Wartburg 353. At that time, he was too young to know how they worked and way too young to drive them, but he could see one thing – each of them had a different ethos and their own unique personality. As time went on, he started seeing that in other cars as well, and his love for the automobile was born.  Read More
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