Corvette C7.R will debut at the Rolex 24
By: Steven Cole Smith on January 13, 2014
RICHARD PRINCE – Corvette Racing has stored the C7.R kind of hush-hush, but the group is ready for a huge season in 2014.
To individuals who didn’;t know the total story, it appeared a bit peculiar Corvette Racing was so secretive about its new C7.R race automobile.
It will debut at the Rolex 24 Hrs at Daytona on Jan. 25 and will run the complete Tudor United SportsCar Championship season—well, nearly the total season a lot more about that in a moment—as effectively as the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
For instance: Considering that we know what the C7 Corvette Stingray production vehicle looks like, what is the massive deal with the race automobile? Why run it in zebra-striped camouflage, even at the “Roar prior to the 24” Daytona check in early January?
Because the C7.R isn’;t based mostly on the normal C7, it really is based on the 2015 C7 Z06 creating its debut at this month’;s North American Worldwide Car Demonstrate in Detroit. Previously that was not a big deal—the C6-based mostly Z06 was a mildly much more aggressive C6—but that isn’;t real with the C7 Z06. The exterior is very different, as well, at least to the qualified eye, and numerous of these aerodynamic tweaks have produced their way to the C7.R.
So you can see why it has been camouflaged. And not like the outdated street-going Z06, which employed a generally aspirated, 6.-liter V8, the C7 Z06 is anticipated to use a 6.2-liter supercharged model.
RICHARD PRINCE – The C7.R
Uh, effectively, not so quickly, in both senses of the word. The new sports-car series—the mixed championship produced up of the Grand-Am and American Le Mans Series—has in essence the exact same guidelines for the Corvette the ALMS did when the automobile competed there last year and ahead of: The Corvette must have a 5.5-liter normally aspirated V8, and, like quite much every other auto in the class, ought to be constrained to about 500 hp with restrictors.
So what would be the stage in constructing a brand-new powertrain for the C7.R, if it still wants to be 5.5 liters, still constrained to 500 horses?
“None,” says Doug Fehan, staff manager considering that the Corvettes first hit the track in this existing era, in 1999. “You cannot even use variable valve timing, it truly is against the principles. So to develop all-new pieces means hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenditures. And at the end of the day, you are still at a 5.5-liter V8. The sanctioning body was very relieved when we stated that from an economic basis, it created a large volume of sense for us to carry more than our powertrain.”
So they did, along with a slightly modified differential. The engine does have direct injection, but even that is a step back for Chevrolet, Fehan says—Chevy had that back in the previous GT-one days.
“Let me give you a tiny background,” says Fehan, who has been doing this so lengthy you know he is about to stage on a couple of toes. “5 or 6 many years ago, they challenged every producer to create cheaper engines that last longer. Everybody nodded like a bobblehead doll. But I can tell you that none of them responded to that except us. Fifty hours was the goal—we now have an engine that we are entirely confident will run for 50 hrs, and we’;re operating on one that will run for even longer. And we’;re performing that for a cost tag of $ 135,000 or $ 140,000, and that helps make it really appealing to our customers in Europe, simply because these guys can run so economically. We have durability, reliability, everything. It was silly to develop a new engine.”
As for the rest of the C7.R, that rather much describes the holdover components. For Fehan and the staff at Chevrolet and Pratt & Miller Engineering—it spearheads the Corvette Racing program for Basic Motors—to run the C6.R all last season and, incidentally, win the ALMS GT championship, and produce the C7.R at the very same time meant a lot of sleepless nights. But he and his drivers appear extremely pleased.
“There are important differences amongst the C6.R and the C7.R,” says Oliver Gavin, a Corvette factory driver for 12 years and a 4-time class winner at Le Mans. “The chassis is stiffer and lighter,” and the car’;s all round balance will, he believes, make it much more controllable on rougher tracks, as nicely as circuits like Street America and Sebring where you have to climb curbing in the corners to be fast.
“Plus, the direct injection has helped the throttle response, and need to support with fuel mileage. General, there are some real gains produced. It is quite a diverse beast, and we’;re slowly learning the positive aspects.”
Corvette Racing is hoping for a effective season in the C7.R.
The C6.R was aggressive on every kind of track, winning 51 ALMS races (amongst GT1 and GT2 versions of the auto), from the extended circuits to the tight street programs, and there is no explanation to assume the C7.R won’;t be, as well. As talked about, the C7.R will miss one of the most crucial races on the routine this year—the Detroit Grand Prix on Might 30-31, the hometown race for both Chevrolet and its arch-rival, SRT and its Viper. Neither team will be at the race simply because it conflicts with Le Mans testing, so the series scratched the entire class from the Detroit system.
That stated, the GT Daytona cars—the class for the GT vehicles from the Grand-Am Rolex series they are slower than the GT Le Mans autos coming from the ALMS—will contain some Vipers in Detroit. Factory sanctioned privateers will run them. Chevrolet chose not to do that, even however it means no Detroit representation, unless you count the “Corvette” Daytona Prototypes, but these aren’;t Corvette-primarily based. The C7.R certainly is.
Speaking of the Daytona Prototype class: The Grand-Am class has always run fully separate from the ALMS races, but now they are combined. So it has meant a minor scrambling in the 2 classes for drivers, specially for the longer races requiring more than 2. Previously Chevrolet may possibly have borrowed a couple drivers from a single class to help with another, but with all the Chevrolet sports automobiles competing on the exact same weekends, there has been a shuffle.
Fehan’;s driver lineup for the GT Le Mans class races stays unchanged, with Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen—last year’;s ALMS GT champs—back with each other in one particular automobile. Gavin and Tommy Milner, who ran third in the championship in 2013 following taking the title in 2012, are back, as well. The longer endurance roster adds Robin Liddell and IndyCar’;s Ryan Briscoe for the Rolex 24 and the twelve Hours of Sebring, whilst Le Mans in June will see Jordan Taylor and Richard Westbrook join the group.
The driver talent pool, Fehan says, “is vast,” and invariably he has lots to pick from. Everyone he interviews can go quickly, but he seems to be for drivers who also know when to slow down. “We’;ve had 2 Le Mans victories handed to us by the quickest guys on the racetrack—who go brain-dead, crash out, and hand us the trophy.”
The new mixed series is good information for Fehan and the group. “Running in our class, there is nothing at all to be unhappy about, and plenty to be pleased about,” like a strong North American schedule and what must be an improved Television package deal with Fox Sports activities.
Fehan and the other GT Le Mans teams are also happy for 2 other factors: The 2014 GT Le Mans class has minimal rule alterations, particularly in contrast to some other lessons such as the Daytona Prototypes. And the class is the only one particular acquiring to pick its tire producer, with all others restricted to the Continental-offered spec tire. Several years in the past, Chevrolet made what amounted to a gut-wrenching determination to depart longtime companion Goodyear for Michelin.
It has turned out properly simply because no tire firm is prepared to match Michelin’;s Le Mans investment.
Had Corvette been constrained to a spec Continental in the U.S., then gone to Le Mans to compete towards other teams that had been working all season with an open tire rule, it would have been at a critical disadvantage—the identical disadvantage the Continental-restricted LMP2 Prototypes going
to Le Mans will have, except if Continental can come up with a tire as very good as Michelin’;s. Continental is on record saying it believes it can.
So who is Fehan concerned about in the GT Le Mans class? The BMWs have been robust and will continue to be so, Fehan says, “especially with race technique.” Ferrari’;s 458 is a “great motor vehicle.” Vipers have improved to the stage Fehan suspects the series may even dial their overall performance back a bit, “and they can accommodate that.”
But Porsche is his biggest concern, with a new car and direct factory involvement. “In terms of common improvement in functionality,” Fehan says, “they will make the biggest jump.”
And as for the C7.R? Daytona is maybe the season’;s greatest unknown. Corvette Racing debuted there Jan. 21, 1999, and in 2001, when the then-flimsy prototypes failed, unexpectedly
won the Rolex 24 Hours outright with the C5.R with Ron Fellows, Johnny O’;Connell, Franck Freon and Chris Kneifel. Corvette quit although it was ahead, and has not been back as a factory crew since.
“We have so many new components, so small carryover,” Fehan says. “But we have adequate experience to have self confidence in those new components. At testing we just need to get the car to the place the guys can drive it, then start off tweaking on spring charges and the like.
“You could have 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months or 3 many years to get it right. And you are even now going to want a tiny a lot more time prior to the very first big race.”
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