Corvette Racing will have a new GTD PRO race car when IMSA’s 2024 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship begins with the 62nd Rolex 24 at Daytona next year. Ahead of this weekend’s 61st race, Corvette Racing debuted the Z06 GT3.R, one that fully meets FIA technical regulations for GT3 cars.
The new race car, based on the most powerful production Corvette available for purchase, Z06, has been designed and developed by GM’s Competition Motorsports Engineering group and Pratt Miller Engineering. Developed with an eye towards customer racing, the Z06 GT3.R will be eligible for a number of championships in North America and throughout the racing world. For customers there will be a high level of parts and technical support available to enhance their success.
First outing for this new car comes as part of the GT Daytona (GTD) PRO class at the 2024 Rolex 24, which opens the season each year. This customer-focused racecar “breaks new ground for Chevrolet and the Corvette Racing program,” said Mark Stielow, director of GM Motorsports Engineering Competition. The program, he noted, “leverages learnings from throughout Corvette Racing’s lengthy and successful history, plus the expertise of our Corvette production design, engineering and powertrain teams.”
The objective for 2024 is to see as many as four Corvette Z06 GT3.R entries with a mix of GTD PRO and GTD teams, starting with the Rolex 24. Two Corvette chassis will be allocated for FIA WEC competition, in hopes of a double entry in the yet-to-be-named GT category, which includes the vaunted 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In addition, Chevrolet Motorsports is also evaluating opportunities to be represented in SRO Motorsports, including SRO America and the Intercontinental GT Challenge, which specific team announcements, including drivers, to be announced at a later date.
The Corvette Z06 GT3.ER is based on the mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette Z06 supercar, which takes the level of technology transfer between production and racing to an increased level, with more shared components and features than ever before. The street and race cars begin with a lightweight and strong aluminum chassis frame from the brand’s Bowling Green, KY assembly plant. The GT3 Corvette’s integrated steel roll cage is slightly modified from the current racing Corvette to provide easier ingress and egress.
As is standard, the race car will feature double-wishbone suspension front and rear, adapted from the C8.R currently competing. The motorsports engineering team added race-appropriate springs and dampers, competition-specific rotors, calipers and pads. The Z06 GT3.R uses the same 18-inch front and rear wheels currently in use on the C8.R.
Meeting the goal of designing a GT3-spec Corvette that is suitable across different tire specifications, balance-of-performance settings and other customer preferences without sacrificing performance or drivability for a variety of tracks and racing surfaces was the ultimate goal.
For power, Corvette specified the 5.5-liter, flat-plane crankshaft DOHC V-8 engine derived from the production Z06. Development began in 2019 with initial testing in the C8..R, ahead of its production use in Z06. The LT6 engine for the GT3.R, too, originates from the Performance Build Center at Bowling Green, on the same production line from which all Z06 engines are built and shares more than 70 percent of its parts with the Z06 production engine.
“Racing continues to platy a key role in the development of our production engines,” said Ross O’Blenes, director of GM’s Performance and Racing Propulsion Team. “The flow of information from Corvette Racing to production engineering – and back – has helped us build race and street-car engines that are fast, reliable and efficient.”
Reveal of the Corvette Z06 GT3.R follows a two-year testing program, beginning in early 2021, that included virtual simulation through Chevrolet’s Driver in the Loop simulator. The first on-track test took place in September of 2022 – which means this new race car will have more than a year of on-track development before it gets into the hands of customers in the third quarter of 2023.
“We’re all very pleased with the results from the track testing program so far,” noted Laura Wontrop Klauser, GM sports car racing program manager. “What’s even more encouraging is the correlation between simulator sessions and what we’re finding in the real-world track testing. It’s another level of validation that gives us confidence in the development process.”
To service customers, Chevrolet and Corvette Racing plan a complete, robust customer support program worldwide, including an at-track parts truck at all North American race events, with expansion to overseas support ramping up in the first two years of the Corvette Z06 GT3.R program. Customer support includes engineering staff availability both at the track and through remote engineering and operations support.
“With this being our first customer GT3 offering, we have had meetings with many prospective customers to learn from their previous experiences, find what is important to them from a support standpoint, and come up with a program that meets their expectations,” explained Christie Bagne, GM assistant sports car racing program manager.
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