Chevrolet and Corvette Racing will open a new chapter with the competition debut of the next-generation Corvette C6.R at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 6-8. In anticipation of a single GT class in 2010, Corvette Racing will test and develop the latest Corvette C6.R in the GT2 category in the final five rounds of the 2009 American Le Mans Series. With the upcoming move to a unified GT category, the twin Compuware Corvette C6.R race cars will compete against rivals representing Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Viper, Panoz, and Ford.

Based on the Corvette ZR1 supercar, the next-generation Corvette C6.R has even stronger links to the production version of America’s performance icon than its predecessors. The GT2 rules require the use of many production-based components, expanding the opportunities for the two-way transfer of technology between the race track and the showroom. The updated Corvette C6.R utilizes the ZR1’s body design, aerodynamic package, aluminum frame and chassis structure, steering system, windshield, and other components. The race team has prepared the cars for the rigors of endurance racing with safety and performance modifications as permitted by the GT2 rules.

“One of the many benefits of the Corvette Racing program has been the opportunity to demonstrate the technology transfer between the race car and the production car,” said Mark Kent, GM Racing manager. “The global movement toward a single GT class will allow us to compete head-to-head with more marketplace competitors while increasing both the production content of the Corvette C6.R race cars and the relevance of racing to our customers. This is a step that positions Corvette for the future of production-based sports car racing worldwide, and a move that is perfectly aligned with GM’s marketing and business objectives in racing.”

Photo Credit: GM Racing

The Upgrades

The upcoming GT regulations required a comprehensive redesign of the Corvette C6.R package. In place of the previous GT1 Corvette’s steel frame, the GT2 version utilizes the production ZR1’s hydroformed aluminum frame as the foundation for a fully integrated tubular steel safety cage. The GT1 version’s wide, louvered fenders are replaced by production-based ZR1 fenders with wheel flares. In accordance with the aerodynamic regulations, the rear wing is reduced 25 percent in width, the diffuser is a flat panel without fences or strakes, and the splitter extends only as far as its production ZR1 counterpart. Steel brake rotors have replaced the carbon discs used previously, and the wheels are aluminum instead of magnesium. The adjustable steering column and steering rack are sourced from the street Corvette.

“Integrating a steel safety cage that meets GM Racing’s stringent standards as well as the strength and durability targets required in racing is a challenge with an aluminum frame,” explained Corvette Racing engineering director Doug Louth. “Working in conjunction with the structure and chassis engineers in the Corvette production group, we designed, built and tested numerous examples before we finalized the configuration. We went through a similar process with the production Corvette group on the body design and aero components. It was truly a collaborative effort between the production engineers and the race team.”

The Powertrain

In the remaining races in 2009, the Corvette race cars will be powered by 6.0-liter GM small-block V8s that are based on the 7.0-liter LS7.R that powered the GT1 version. This reduction in displacement was achieved by shortening the crankshaft stroke from 3.875-inch to 3.32-inch. The diameter of the series-mandated intake air restrictors was decreased from 30.6 mm to 28.6 mm, with a corresponding reduction in engine output from 590 to 470 horsepower. These engines will be built at GM Powertrain’s Performance Build Center, the same facility that builds the Z06 and ZR1 production car engines.

A 5.5-liter production-based GM small-block V8 is currently under development and will be introduced at the start of the 2010 season. The Corvette Racing team is continuing its commitment to green racing with the use of E85R ethanol racing fuel.

While much of the hardware has changed, Corvette Racing’s roster of championship-winning drivers remains the same. Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen will share the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R, and Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta will drive the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R. They will be joined by Antonio Garcia and Marcel Fassler at Petit Le Mans.

The GT2 version of the Corvette C6.R will make its debut in the Acura Sports Car Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The two-hour, 45-minute race is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 8. ABC will televise the race tape-delayed at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, August 9.