One of the Shelby's trump cards, in our opinion, was the braking. With those huge Brembo rotors up front and four pistons clamping down on the rotors, the KR's 3,879 pounds slow to sub-warp speeds better than the GT500 by a bit over half a car length. The KR is 22 pounds lighter than its GT500 sibling, but due to the suspension tuning, gear ratio, and aero package, the KR has a considerably lighter feel, which takes steering inputs at will and makes you believe you're driving a much lighter car.
It's Miller Time
Day two of our press function allowed us a full day's use of the Miller Motorsports Park's West Course for vehicle evaluation. The Miller facility is one of the best in the world and, due to its immense size and location, the track has considerable runoff areas with little to no barriers, allowing drivers to go full steam with little chance of damage should they get in over their heads.
Ford had several GT500KRs for us to test. They were showroom stock-with no prep for track use-so we could see just how much at home the KR is on the track as it is on the street. Besides a quartet of KRs, Ford's press fleet brought out production models of the GT500 and Bullitt Mustangs to compare back-to-back with the KR, while Shelby Automobiles allowed us to taste the CS8 for comparison sake. Needless to say, it was a day of driver changes and organized Chinese fire drills as helmeted journalists leapt from car to car.
To get an accurate feel for the KR's improvements, we worked our way up the ladder proper by starting in a Bullitt Edition Mustang, then to the GT500, and finally the CS8 before tasting the KR's track manners first hand. While some of our driving time was strictly to learn the Miller West Course layout (our first time there), we did get to run several laps in each car at the limit; or more succinctly, at our limit. Wreck one of these bad boys and it's not just $20 a week out of your pay, that's for sure.
Right off the bat, we felt that the KR's suspension was ready to handle every inch of the track. We could brake harder, corner later, and accelerate deeper with the suspension's undying ability to instantly go where the car was pointed. No excessive body roll, no deep nose dives on hard braking, nothing dramatic at all-just a balanced car allowing us to put our best inputs into making great lap times.
While we didn't get to run the full Miller course, we're sure the KR's new aero package still played into our slower speeds on the West Course. Braking was spot-on and fade-free, while the power on tap was more than enough for ear-to-ear-grin-inducing full-throttle romps on the straights. We noticed the KR's recalibrated electronic throttle control allowed instant throttle as we rolled into the power coming out of the turns-no delays or hesitation on the computer's part whatsoever.
After several laps in the KR at speed, or what we thought was a decent speed, we had a chance to climb into one of the KR development cars for a few laps with SVT engineer Andy Vrenko. Now the term "development car" is a bit of a misnomer here, as, save for the racing seats and five-point harnesses, the development mules were identical to the street-going KRs down to the tires, brake pads, upgrades, and so forth. This allowed the SVT engineers to fully test the production car's hardware and calibration/tuning in a demanding 12-hour non-stop track test.
Andy's driving skills were immediately noticed as we powered through the first turn in near full drift with the tires howling their displeasure. Two laps later, the E-ticket ride was over but we wanted more. Andy clearly knew the limits of the KR's suspension and brakes (as he should since he developed them) and put the KR assuredly wherever he wanted it to go. This is one easy-to-drive, yet capable, car that won't beat the snot out of your backside.