Racing is about to get way more competitive.
Chevrolet is showing that the longtime “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” adage still applies to sports cars today. Their new Corvette Z06 is easily the most impressive version of the iconic model ever made, and it has the Corvette Racing program to thank for its progress. While the new C7-generation Corvette Z06 was being developed, the new Corvette C7.R was right alongside. The two cars share a large amount of chassis, engine, and aerodynamic technology, representing the closest link in modern times between the road-going and racing version of the Corvette.
“When it comes to endurance racing, Corvette has been the benchmark of success for nearly 15 years,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “A great deal of the team’s success can be attributed to the symbiotic relationship between Corvette Racing and the production vehicles. The 2015 Corvette Z06 and new C7.R will be more competitive on the street and track due to successful design of the Corvette Stingray – which itself is heavily based on the C6.R race car.”
Since the Corvette C5-R debuted in 1999, Corvette Racing has enjoyed incredible success. The C5-R and C6.R have achieved 90 victories worldwide, 10 manufacturer championships in the American Le Mans Series, and seven class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2012 and 2013, the Corvette Racing C6.R won the manufacturer, team, and driver championship in ALMS.
“Corvette Racing sets the gold standard for technology transfer between the track and street,” said Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer. “We are continually taking what we learn in competition, and applying it to improve production Corvettes – which then make better race cars. As a result, the new Corvette Z06 is the most track-capable production Corvette ever while the new C7.R is poised to be even more competitive on the race circuit.”
The new Corvette C7.R and its Z06 might as well be twins. Their shared development has led to improvements on and off the race track. The same production-based aluminum frame forms the skeleton of both cars and for the first time ever will be built in-house at the Bowling Green, KY Corvette assembly plant. New manufacturing technologies such as laser welding, Flowdrill-machined fasteners, and GM-patented aluminum spot-welding make the chassis 40-percent stronger than the C6.R’s.
Aerodynamics was also a main focus for both Corvette models. The C7.R and Z06 used aerodynamic innovations from the C6.R such as the forward-tilted radiator, hood, quarter panel vents, and rear gearbox and differential intakes. The two new models take it even further with new front splitters, rocker panels, and brake cooling ducts. Aerodynamic differences on the C7.R include new air intakes on the rear quarter panel to cool the differential and transmission. A larger rear spoiler wing helps to generate a massive amount of downforce and incorporates a new radiator inlet helps to smooth airflow over the wing.
“We worked concurrently with the race team developing the aerodynamic packages for the Z06 and the C7.R,” said Juechter. “We even used the same modeling software to test both cars, enabling us to share data and wind-tunnel test results. As a result, the aerodynamics of the production Z06 produce the most downforce of any production car GM has ever tested, and we are closing in on the aero performance of a dedicated race car.”
Many aspects of the Corvette C7.R had to differ from its Z06 sibling to conform to GT racing regulations. Instead of the mighty LT4 supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 in the Z06, the C7.R features a small-block 5.5-liter V-8 engine due to the rules limiting displacement to 5.5-liters and no forced induction. The suspension is built to accommodate larger brakes and racing tires due to regulations as well.
The new Chevrolet Corvette C7.R will make its racing debut at the 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 25-26th, with two cars. The Corvette Racing C7.R will race in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in the GT Le Mans class and participate in 11 races. The Corvette C7.R is also expected to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June in the GTE Pro class.
Chevrolet Corvette C7.R Gallery