Corvette Racing’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship C8.R GTD PRO competitor will exit competition at the close of the 2023 season, but there’s a new Corvette on the horizon that will carry on the brand’s 125 victories – and counting – together with its nine class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the final one accomplished just a few weeks ago for the brand’s first LMGTE Am class win.
As revealed prior to the 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona, Corvette Racing is working with Pratt Miller Motorsports to enter two Corvette Z06 GT3.R GTD PRO race cars in next year’s IMSA competition at the 2024 Rolex 24 at Daytona twice-around-the-clock winter classic. This is a factory-supported effort but no longer a pure factory effort; additional customer programs will be announced in the near future as will the driver lineup for the two-car Chevrolet/Pratt Miller entry.
The partnership for Chevrolet and Pratt Miller Motorsports (PMM) is a truly natural fit: “Chevrolet and Pratt Miller have collaborated for more than 25 years on the Corvette Racing program, and we are thrilled that we are able to continue together into the GT3 era,” noted Christie Bagne, Corvette Z06 GT3.R program manager.
The well-known Corvette Racing brand continues and will include customer and technical support that should carry on Corvette Racing’s exceptional results. The Corvette Racing program, which began in 1999 has been a mainstay of General Motors’ sports car racing for the past quarter-century. Chevrolet Motorsports Competition Engineering and PMM began planning this endeavor more than two years ago. Pratt Miller, located in New Hudson, Michigan, is the constructor of the Z06 GT3.R and have worked hand-in-hand with Chevrolet Motorsports engineers on the development, build and testing performed for this new race car.
They’ll continue as partners in 2024 and well beyond, as GM Propulsion Performance and Racing Center, located in Pontiac, Michigan, has been busy with both development and refinements on the 5.5-liter, flat-plane crankshaft DOHC LT6 V8 engine dedicated to this race car. The LT6 engine comes from Chevrolet’s Performance Build Center in Bowling Green, Kentucky – the same production line on which all Corvette Z06 engines are built.
The dedicated Z06 GT3.R race engines are then delivered to Pontiac, where they are fitted with certain race-specific components, yet the 5.5-liter mill shares more than 70 percent of its parts with the production Z06 engine. These uprated components include the crankshaft, connecting rods, cylinder heads, fuel injectors, coils, gaskets and a variety of other sensors.
As is customary, this program is being announced well after testing has begun. Since September 2022, Corvette Racing and PMM have conducted more than 5,500 miles of testing with the Corvette Z06 GT3.R and the car is currently in the throes of its final homologation testing in Europe. The car has tested at Daytona, Sebring, MId-Ohio and Road Atlanta, according to Marc Maurine, Corvette Racing Program director for PMM. There is added testing planned for this summer and fall to fine-tune the Z06 GT3.R to multiple brands of tires. This will allow its use across an array of worldwide championships, including the World Endurance Championship (WEC).
“Everyone is pleased with the progress of our testing and development programs, and new car builds are underway,” Brandon Widmer, Pratt Miller vice president for motorsports stated. “We’ve experienced a lot of successes, race wins and championships with Chevrolet through the Corvette Racing program and now we move into the GT3 era. Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports is looking forward to continue showing our expertise in race operations and management to our fans, our commercial partners and new prospects, as we go forward.”
Bagne confirmed that more announcements are on the horizon. “We’re continuing to target four cars on the grid in IMSA at the Rolex 24 and throughout the season, as well as two cars in the FIA WEC and two Corvettes in SRO Motorsports America,” she said.
As sports car racing moves into its GT3 era, Corvette Racing will no longer be a complete factory team. “This is an opportunity for us to expand our presence, expand the Corvette Racing umbrella, bring in more customer teams and have more Corvettes on the grid for our fans,” Bagne explained. “It’s also an opportunity for Pratt Miller Motorsports to expand their commercial opportunities whereas, in the past it’s been a fully controlled GM program.”
While Pratt Miller Motorsports has been “quite happy being the name behind the scenes and the Corvette Racing name in the forefront, for us it’s a new chapter,” said Widmer. “We have been sort of the silent partner in the background, so for us part of the excitement is to get the name out there a little more. It’s important to have that continuation of the heritage of Corvette Racing and all the success we’ve had collectively for the last 25 years, but also put the Pratt Miller Motorsports name out there.”
By Anne Proffit