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2009 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R GT2 news, pictures, and information
Corvette Racing: 2010 American Le Mans SeriesAfter years of hard work and bitter, frustrating moments, Corvette Racing had ascended to the top in the GT1 field. Then, after scoring victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the team switched to GT2. In spite of finding a traffic jam filled with many other competitive GT2 competitors, Corvette Racing found victory early on. However, as the 2009 season wore on, the successes dwindled. Once again, Corvette Racing would have to roll up its sleeves and work hard to become a champion in the ultra-competitive GT2 field.
Since earning six GTS and GT1 class victories as Le Mans since 2001, 2010 would be the first full season for Corvette Racing in the GT2 category. The team announced it would take part in all nine rounds of the American Le Mans Series, plus, would return to Le Mans to battle the best GT2 competitors in the world.
Although the team had become incredibly successful in GT1, Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing's program manager, always kept the team's focus in perspective. 'While Corvette is truly a global brand, our most important market is North America. Our participation in the American Le Mans Series is both a proving ground for our technology and a showcase to demonstrate Corvette's capabilities for our customers and fans', Fehan would remark. Therefore, the move to GT2 was important. To be successful in a category that even more-closely resembled the Corvette streetcar would only help the Corvette brand name.
The driver lineup changed slightly heading into the season. Emmanuel Collard, a two-time Le Mans champion, had driven for the Cadillac LMP effort back in 2000 to 2002, and had garnered a good deal of GT2 experience during the years as well. Collard's resume reads like most of the other champion drivers Corvette Racing employs. He had earned multiple victories in the 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Daytona and Le Mans, as well as, the 24 Hours of Spa.
Fehan, welcoming Collard to the team would say, 'We are pleased to welcome Emmanuel back to the GM Racing family. He has proven his ability at all levels of racing, and he understands the demands and discipline of endurance racing. He will be a valuable addition to our international lineup of championship-winning drivers.'
An excited Collard would state, 'I'm very happy to join Corvette Racing for the 2010 endurance classics. Corvette has been the most successful car make and team in GT racing for over ten years now, so I'm obviously thrilled to be a part of this team…I hope my experience with GT2s from the past seasons can help Corvette secure class wins in the three endurance races.
Collard would join regular drivers Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta for the three long-distance races, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans. Corvette Racing would enter a second car during the season as well. The other car would be driven by Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen. They would be joined by Antonio Garcia for the long-distance races.
Adorned in its usual yellow and black livery, with its Michelin tires and Compuware sponsorship, the Corvette C6-R would be packed up and on its way to the first race of the season, the 12 Hours of Sebring.
In 2009, Corvette Racing cruised to victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring precisely because the only competition in the GT1 field was itself. The number 3 and 4 C6-Rs from Corvette Racing would do battle for bragging rights amongst the team, and not much else. The only goal the team had, except for finishing, would have been to try and clip one of the LMP2 or LMP1 class cars in the overall results. While they wouldn't beat any of the LMP cars still running, they would come home 1st and 2nd in class and 6th and 7th overall.
2010 would be vastly different. There would be no easy cruising this time for the team. They would have to be on it from the very start. Corvette Racing would end up being just one of eight teams to take part in the 2010 season and the 12 Hours of Sebring on the 20th of March.
In spite of the increased number of competitors in the GT2 class, Corvette Racing would still be amongst the fastest in class. Obviously, some of what the team had learned and built up in the GT1 category had managed to translate over into GT2.
Although the cars had the speed, it was found the new BMW GT2 competitor, and the Ferrari 430 of Risi Competizione, still managed to handle better, as well as have the speed, to be the fastest in the category on a rather regular basis. Qualifying would make it abundantly more clear any performance deficiencies amongst the field.
In qualifying, the BMWs were setting the pace. Ten minutes still remained in the session when Dirk Mueller turned what would be the fastest lap of the GT2 field when he would complete a lap of the 3.7 mile circuit in two minutes and seven-tenths of a second. Jorg Bergmeister, in the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche, would turn in the second-fastest time that was about four-tenths slower than Mueller's best. Wolf Henzler would be the third-fastest qualifier in the Team Falken Tire Porsche. The best of the Corvettes would be the number 3 car driven by Jan Mangnussen. His best time was half of a second slower than Mueller's, which would lead to the number 3 starting the race (provisionally) 16th overall and 5th in class. Oliver Gavin would turn a lap just three-tenths slower than Mangnussen, and therefore, would start (provisionally) 6th in class and 17th overall.
The key word in this equation was 'provisionally'. The number 90 BMW that had turned the fastest lap in qualifying would end up being sent to the back of the starting grid because it happened to fail a stall test. This stall test failure meant the car's time was excluded and the car was sent to the back. This meant everybody that qualified behind the number 90 car, which was the entire GT2 field would move up one position. This meant the number 45 Flying Lizard Porsche would start the race from the pole. The Corvette Racing's C6-Rs moved up to start 4th and 5th in class.
Taking place at what was an old bomber training base back during World War II, the 12 Hours of Sebring proves to be a severe test each and every year. The numerous bumps around what were the old concrete runways, pounds the cars and the drivers over the course of the 12 hours. Magnified by the numerous bumps, any mechanical problem within a car is sure to expose itself over the course of the race.
Although it began its life as a training base, Sebring began hosting races in 1950. Just two years later, the first 12 Hours of Sebring was held at the track. It had hosted Formula One just one time in its career, but 2010 would be the 58th running of the 12 hour event.
The start of the race would see the Corvettes hold station 4th and 5th in class. The battle in GT2, as usual, was rather tight. Within 15 minutes, the number 3 Corvette had managed to pass for 3rd in class. The number 4 car continued to run 5th. At the tail-end of the first hour, both of the Corvettes had managed to work their way forward and were running in the top-three.
Antonio Garcia had taken over behind the wheel of the number 3 Corvette around two hours into the race. In an effort to rejoin the fight as quickly as possible, Garcia would be caught for speeding in the pitlane and would have to serve a stop and go penalty for the infraction. This would end up costing the team in a big, and unfortunate, way. By the time Garcia had served the penalty, and had gotten back up to speed, he had ended up slipping all the way down to 29th overall and last in GT2. The number 4 Corvette continued to run inside, or near, the top-three.
Events would go from bad to a most embarrassing worst for Corvette Racing just three hours into the race. Three hours and eleven minutes into the race the majority of the GT2 class runners were making pitstops under green flag conditions. Tensions run high during these moments. Mistakes are easy to make. The worst kind of event would happen to the team during this time. During the pitstops, the two Corvettes would collide. The number 3 car had already been hit with a stop and go penalty. Because of tensions, and the resulting mistake, the number 4 car would suffer some damage, but more importantly, would suffer in the running order.
After some left-hand bodywork repairs, the number 3 Corvette was back on track. The number 4 car had already gotten back out on track but had fallen from the top-three in the class down to 26th overall. The darkness had come to Corvette Racing despite the fact it was only the middle of the afternoon.
Halfway through the race, the number 62 Ferrari 430 of Risi Competizione, driven by Jaime Melo, Gianmaria Bruni and Pierre Kaffer were in the lead over the number 92 Rahal Letterman Racing BMW. In 3rd was the number 45 Flying Lizard Porsche. By this time, the Corvettes had settled down and had begun to make their way back up the running order, slightly. The number 4 C6-R was running 19th overall and 10th in class while the number 3 car was 21st overall and 12th in class.
Three hours remaining in the race, the fight at the front of the GT2 field was joined by the other BMW. The two BMWs would set sail in pursuit of the Risi Ferrari in front of the class. By this time, both of the Corvettes had managed to get by all of the GTC Porsches but had become stuck at the trailing-edge of the GT2 field. Corvette Racing needed help from their competitors in order to continue to move forward.
With a little more than two hours remaining in the race, the number 3 Corvette had managed to get by its sister-car and was now running 16th overall and 9th in class. A half of an hour later, the Corvette team would get some help, but not as much as they would need to really make a move in the final two hours. The rear brakes on the 01 Ferrari 430, being driven by Scott Sharp, had caught fire. The fire had quickly moved to the bodywork. Sharp rapidly pulled over and the fire was put out. However, the race was over for the Extreme Speed Motorsports team. This helped to firmly establish both of the calamitous Corvettes back in the top-ten.
One minute remaining in the race, both of the BMWs were pushing hard. Dirk Mueller would push a little too hard as he would hit the tires at turn seventeen. He would be able to continue on, but would hand 2nd place to Dirk Werner in the number 92 sister-BWM.
At the end of the twelve hours of running, Jaime Melo would bring the Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 across the line to take the victory in GT2. The Risi Ferrari would finish having completed 331 laps, one more than the number 92 BMW for Rahal Letterman Racing. The number 90 BMW would finish the race 3rd, also down one lap.
After so much promise early on, Corvette Racing would overcome its self-destruction part-way through the race and would make it to the end of the event. The number 3 Corvette would finish 8th in class and 15th overall. The number 4 sister-car would finish 9th. Both cars would end up eleven laps down.
Were it not for the cataclysmic events that transpired rather early on in the race, Corvette Racing could have been challenging for a podium finish within the class. Instead, the team would have to quietly pack up and leave Sebring with a bitter taste in their mouths and an increased focus on pitstop execution.
The team would have about a month after its run-in at Sebring to work on pitstop execution and prepare for the season's next race, which as the American Le Mans Series at Long Beach on the 17th of April.
The second round of the American Le Mans Series took place on the streets of Long Beach in southern California. Easily recognizable for its turn eleven hairpin turn followed by the long curved straight that runs along Shoreline Drive, Long Beach has been the site of the longest running major street race throughout the whole of North America.
Host for many of the major racing series throughout its history, the circuit first hosted a race in 1975 and would serve as a round in the Formula One World Championship from 1976 through 1983. The American Le Mans Series first started coming to Long Beach in 2007 and has had only one repeat winner in either class throughout that time. The only repeat winners were Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta for Corvette Racing while they ran in the GT1 class. In fact, Corvette Racing had a record to uphold coming into the race. The team had earned three-straight victories at the race, albeit in GT1. In their most demanding test, the team would have to try and keep the streak alive.
It was quite clear throughout practice that while Corvette was still fast around the tight 1.96 mile circuit, the team would definitely have some tough competition in which it had to contend. In all of the practice sessions, Corvette Racing would only have one of its cars in the top-three of the GT class in one of those practice sessions.
In the early evening hours of Friday the GT and GTC cars rolled out for their twenty minute qualifying session. Olivier Beretta and Johnny O'Connell were both fast for the team in the number 4 and 3 C6-Rs. However, with still more than ten minutes remaining, Jaime Melo would turn the fastest lap in the number 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari. His time would crack the one minute and twenty second mark. Wolf Henzler would qualify 2nd in the GT class with a time six-tenths of a second slower. Johnny O'Connell would put a Corvette in the top-three on the GT starting grid with a lap time just two-tenths slower than Henzler's. Olivier Beretta's best time was only one hundredth of a second slower than Patrick Long's best. As a result, the number 4 Corvette would start the race 4th in class and 16th overall.
The race at Long Beach was slightly different than the more normal American Le Mans Series events. Instead of a timed two hour and forty-five minute race, the race at Long Beach is short, only 100 minutes. This means any miscues in the pits, or out on the track, would severe hinder chances of success. In addition to the time pressure, the pit boxes at Long Beach are not all that long. In many cases, a car finished service would have to be pulled back in order to clear a car in front. The time it takes to pull the car back could allow the car in front the necessary time needed to still pull out ahead, perhaps despite coming in behind the other.
At 4:41 in the late afternoon the green flag flew to start the race. Henzler would manage to get around the Risi Ferrari on the 1st lap of the race and would lead throughout the first-third of the race. The two Corvettes would hold station at the start in 3rd and 5th.
Throughout the first half of an hour, Henzler would lead in the Falken Tire Porsche over Bruni in the number 62 Risi Ferrari. The number 3 Corvette continued to run in 3rd and the number 4 ran 5th. However, the bumpy street circuit would take its toll on the number 4 car during the first forty-five minutes of the race.
Riding over the bumps and touching other GT traffic the front of the Corvette had some loose bodywork. Beretta would come into the pits to let Gavin take over, and to let the crew have a chance at pulling some of the loose bodywork off of the car. This would take some time and it would end up dropping the car all the way down to 21st overall and 9th in class.
A yellow flag would come out fifty minutes into the race. This would be the best, and the worse, time to come in and pit. The first-six runners in the GT field would all come into the pits together. The number 3 Corvette had come in in 3rd place. It and the number 17 Falken Tire Porsche would get delayed in the pits and would drop down the order.
The number 92 Rahal Letterman Racing BMW had come into the pits ten minutes prior, and therefore, would take the lead in GT. The slow stops for the number 3 Corvette and the number 17 Porsche would see them re-emerge on the track outside of the top-three. Jan Magnussen would be sitting 5th. Bryan Sellers, in the number 17 Porsche would come out in 6th after having led all but one of the laps up until the safety car period.
Things would just keep getting worse for the number 4 Corvette. About four minutes after the race went back to green, Gavin would have to bring the C6-R down the pitlane and into the Corvette pit-box. He had a mirror issue that would cause the mirror to need to be replaced. This would further drop the number 4 down to 24th overall and 10th in class.
Ever since emerging from the pitstop, Magnussen had been lurking right behind Bruni's number 62 Ferrari. He would remain right there over the course of the next twenty minutes. But then, with thirteen minutes remaining, Jan would get by Bruni for 3rd in GT and would next set his sights on the number 92 Rahal Letterman BMW.
Magnussen pushed incredibly hard in the closing minutes of the race. Seven minutes left in the race, Jan would push the C6-R hard and would be all-over the number 92 BMW. With only three minutes remaining in the race, Magnussen had found his opening. He would end up being able to get by Milner in the BMW and take over 2nd place.
Patrick Long would manage to hold on in the Flying Lizard Porsche to take the win by four seconds over Jan Magnussen in the number 3 Corvette. Tommy Milner, in the number 92 BMW would end up finishing the race 3rd. After all of its troubles, the number 4 Corvette would finish the race 18th overall and 9th in class, two laps down to the top-three.
This was a tremendous result for the team after the lost time in the pitstop. Magnussen pushed hard in the effort coming back from 5th to finish 2nd. The ability to come back from a setback in such a short amount of time boded well for the team as they would head, with the rest of the series, further north to Monterey in a little over a month.
After a break of a little over a month, Corvette Racing was at Laguna Seca preparing its cars for the third round of the American Le Mans Series Championship.
Moved from its usual late-season spot on the calendar, the 2010 Monterey Sports Car Championships would also boast of another change. 2010 would be the first time in which the race would extend into the darkness at Laguna Seca as the length of the race was increased to six hours.
The Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca had been constructed in 1957 and first hosted a race that same year. Famous for its 'Corkscrew', the 2.23 mile circuit had been a stop on the ALMS calendar since 1999. The circuit features a number of elevation changes throughout, but none as spectacular as the drop through the corkscrew and down 175 feet to the start/finish straight.
Except 2006, the Corvette Racing team had dominated at Laguna Seca in the GT1 category. Over the course of the previous five seasons, Corvette Racing had managed to win four of the races held at Monterey. But 2009 was different. In its first season in GT2, the team managed a 2nd place with O'Connell and Magnussen. Still, this was a good result considering it was the team's first time in the GT2 category at Laguna Seca. In addition, it was only the fifth race in which Corvette Racing had competed in GT2!
Thirty-five cars would be entered for the six hour race. This was the largest field for any racing series at Monterey in a decade. Being that the race would be six hours in length, each of the crews for the cars would be tested as each team would make more than the average number of driver changes. The drivers and the crews would have to be as fast as possible so as not to cost themselves too much time.
Throughout practice, neither one of the Corvettes were in the top-three for lap times around the 2.23 mile circuit. However, qualifying would be a different story.
Perhaps not showing their true hand, both of the Corvettes would be fast during the twenty minute qualifying session. But then, within the first ten minutes of the session, the speed of the Ferrari 430 became quite clear.
Jaime Melo would turn in the fastest lap of the entire GT field and would capture the pole. Melo's best time was only three-tenths of a second faster than Johannes van Overbeek in the Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari 430. Just one minute before Melo would set the pole time, Gavin had just turned the fastest lap in the number 4 Corvette. Gavin would end up starting 3rd in class having set a time half of a second slower than Melo. Jan Magnussen would be right there in the other Corvette. His best time during qualifying was exactly one-tenth slower than Gavin's. Therefore, the number 3 Corvette would start 4th in class and 16th overall.
Being only one month away from the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Monterey offered the team one last chance to get the speed and reliability it would need in order to compete successfully across the Atlantic. But it was also a time to work out any other 'bugs' that may come the team's way. This would include mistakes. It would be better for the team to make the mistakes at Monterey than at Le Mans.
Seeing as the race would be six hours, it would be important to be fast, but just as important to get into a comfortable pace in which the mistakes would be reduced to a minimum. Therefore, the two Corvettes would hold station in 3rd and 4th in class throughout the first twenty-five minutes. In spite of the incredible competition, the two Corvettes would run together to make sure it was more difficult for the competition to get by.
The running order would remain virtually unchanged throughout the course of the first forty-five minutes. But then, forty-five minutes in Magnussen would get by Gavin to take over 3rd. Magnussen wouldn't stop there. Fifty-eight minutes into the race, Jan was only down two-tenths of a second to Jaime Melo who was in the lead in GT.
Through the first two hours of the race, both of the Corvettes were running inside the top-five in GT. The number 3 Corvette was running in the 2nd place position while the number 4 was in 5th.
While the race was important to the championship fight within GT for the American Le Mans Series, the race was also important for ironing out the wrinkles before the team headed to France. Two hours into the race, the 2nd place running number 3 Corvette would hit a big wrinkle. After having already come in for a pitstop, the number 3 C6-R had to return, but for a stop and go penalty for running over the sister-car's air hose. This would drop the car to 15th overall and 7th in class.
Thankfully for the team, things would calm down. Its two cars would carry on and would end up being amongst the top-four within just a few minutes. The two Corvettes would run 3rd and 4th over the course of the next hour. Then, during another yellow flag period, both cars would come in to pit and change drivers. Other competitors would not. This shuffled the Corvettes down to 6th and 7th in the GT running order.
Over the course of the next hour, Magnussen would battle hard and would be inside the top-three by the time there were only two hours remaining in the race. Then, as the result of pits stops made by competitors, Jan had brought the number 3 Corvette back from the earlier setback all the way to the lead of the GT field.
Oliver Gavin wasn't to be outdone by Magnussen. Four and a half hours into the race, Gavin had managed to get by Magnussen, who had given up the lead of the GT race to Patrick Long. Then, four hours and thirty-eight minutes into the race, Gavin would manage to get by Long for the lead in the category.
Gavin would lead for the next half hour. But then, with only about fifty-five minutes remaining, Patrick Long would manage to get by in the Flying Lizard Porsche and retake the lead of the GT race. The number 3 Corvette, with Magnussen at the wheel, also began to fade as Jan was running 5th.
Only forty minutes remained in the race. After making his last stop of the race, Gavin was pushing like mad to get on the podium, or better. Just ten minutes before eight in the evening, Gavin would flash through the deepening darkness to turn the fastest lap of the race for the GT field. He would lap the circuit in one minute and twenty-three seconds. This would help him take over 3rd when the number 92 BMW made a pitstop. Magnussen was also back on the charge and running 4th.
A yellow flag would come out with only fifteen minutes left in the race. This was a welcome yellow for many of the teams, including Corvette, as fuel would have been an issue had it stayed green. This put tremendous pressure on the pit crews.
Gavin would get in and out without incident and would remain in 3rd position behind the Rahal Letterman Racing BMW number 90 and the Flying Lizard Porsche number 45. The number 3 Corvette would end up hitting another of those wrinkles during the yellow flag period. Magnussen had brought the car in while the pits were apparently closed. As a result of working on the car during the closed pit period, Magnussen would have to come back into the pits when the race went back green. In addition to having to come back into the pits, Magnussen would be held for one minute before being released to go back out on track. This error would cost the number 3 team. As a result of the penalty, Magnussen would drop from 4th in class to 7th.
Coming back to the green flag with only twelve minutes remaining, Gavin was sitting in 3rd position and right behind 1st and 2nd place. Patrick Long would dive to the inside coming through the final left-hander to take the lead going into turns one and two. Gaving would not press the issue too much and would slot into 3rd.
Four minutes remaining in the race, Gavin trailed Joey Hand in the number 90 BMW by only about a second. A second and a half separated Hand and Long. However, the battle for the lead was far from over. On the last lap of the race, coming up to the corkscrew, Long would get a little loose. This allowed Hand to catch right up. Hand was all over Long coming through the last set of sweeping corners. Long would end up making it through the last turn better and would beat Hand to the line by just three-tenths of a second. Gavin would choose to finish instead of trying to fight for a better position and risk making a mistake. Gavin would finish 3rd, down a little over two and a half seconds to Long and Hand. As a result of the late penalty incurred, Magnussen would bring the number 3 Corvette across the line in 6th.
Even though the 6th place for the number 3 Corvette was disappointing, and the fact remained the team had made some mistakes throughout the course of the race, the team could still take away many positive results from the race. They had overcome the penalties and the mistakes to finish rather well. Gavin's pace over the course of the final hour also showed the car had the pace to compete with the world's best in one month's time.
That was it. In less than a month, Corvette Racing would be back in Le Mans. The team would arrive as returning champions, but would have to prepare to do battle around the Circuit de la Sarthe in the GT2 category for the very first time.
Le Mans, France in June: time for the most famous endurance race in the world. The last time Corvette Racing had made the trip across the Atlantic it had been a very successful journey.
The trio of Johnny O'Connell, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia ended up beating another Corvette C6-R for Luc Alphand Aventures by six laps to take the victory in GT1. The trio would be back. Emmanuel Collard would again join Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta in the other Corvette.
Often teams going to Le Mans will hold back slightly throughout the course of the season prior to the race so as not to incur any performance limitation for the famed race on its high-speed circuit. hold back until qualifying. Many teams had been known to hold back until Le Mans as well, so as not to incur any kind of performance limitation prior. Certainly, this argument could be raised concerning Corvette Racing.
The previous year, while competing in GT1, the Corvette C6-R was hitting speeds down the Mulsanne in excess of 183 mph. Despite having to switch from a 7.0-liter V8 engine, the new 5.5-liter engine was still managing to push the GT2 Corvette down the straight within a mile of an hour or so of the speeds they were turning the year before! In fact, in many cases, Corvette's cars were beating the top-end speeds of the more-powerful GT1 cars! This minimal loss of performance would help the team during qualifying for the 24 hour classic.
Of course, the Circuit de la Sarthe is not all about speed. There are some very technically challenging sections where handling and stability is of greater importance than sheer out-right speed. One of these important areas would be the Porsche Curves. Any deficiencies the Corvette had compared to the competition would reveal itself through such technical areas as the Porsche Curves.
Sure enough, on the first day of qualifying, the Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 of Melo, Bruni and Kaffer would turn in a lap time of three minutes and fifty-nine seconds. The number 63 Corvette was closest to this time, but was slower by eight-tenths of a second. However, the time would end up not standing for Risi.
Going through scrutineering, it was found the wing on the Risi Ferrari failed to meet inspection parameters. Therefore, the time earned was thrown out and the car was sent to the back of the grid as a result of the infraction. This gave an open door to Corvette Racing to use its performance advantage to good use.
The number 64 team would take full advantage of the opportunity and would turn in the fastest lap on the second day of qualifying. His best time was three minutes, fifty-nine seconds and four-tenths. The number 63 crew would also turn a lap in the fifty-nines, but seven-tenths. Interestingly, both of the Corvettes were on the verge of laps of three minutes and fifty-eight seconds until traffic and other events slowed their times. Had they been able to turn laps in the fifty-eights they would have been turning the same lap times as the GT1 Corvettes! No matter, Corvette Racing would start the 78th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans from the first-two positions in GT2. Overall, Corvette Racing's cars would start 37th and 38th.
First run in 1923, the Circuit de la Sarthe's 8.46 layout is one of the few longer distance courses that still follows the same route as used from the very early days. While changed and evolved in the name of safety, much of the present circuit remains the same as that which has been contested for three-quarters of a century. Such is the fame of the circuit that to mention just some of the names associated with it, like Dunlop Curve, Mulsanne, Arnage and Tetre Rouge, would immediately be recognizable almost all over the world.
Throughout its first half of its life, Le Mans was much more about reliability than sheer speed. The really fast cars had a tendency to break over the course of 24 hours, while the slightly slower, more reliable, cars would go on to victory. However, over the course of the last fifteen years, the reliability of all of the cars in the field had gotten to such a point the event had almost naturally shifted into a sprint race throughout. As a result, every drive is hard on the gas right from the very start of the race. This would bring reliability back into the picture.
Starting from the front for the race Corvette would have an advantage as neither of its cars would have to deal with the tight battle in GT2, especially if they could use its speed advantage to stretch the gap over the rest of the field. So, right from the start of the clock and the waving of the French flag, the two Corvettes driven by Gavin and Magnussen were on the power.
Running together on the circuit, the two Corvettes were able to get by some of the GT1 entries and actually had an advantage of a few seconds over the Felbermayr Porsche and some other of the GT2 entries. Throughout the first quarter of the race the two Corvettes ran 1st and 2nd in GT2.
Then, going into the sixth hour of the race, an intense battle developed between the number 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari and the leading Corvette, car 64. Over the course of a number of laps the two would trade the lead back and forth. Then, in the midst of the battle, the Ferrari developed gearbox trouble that would allow Oliver Gavin to get by and set sail with the lead once again.
As the day turned into night, the Corvettes continued to run strong. In spite of the darkness and the fatigue it seemed the light was shining on Corvette. The team looked unbeatable, even though it was their first time in the GT2 category at Le Mans.
As dawn broke, Corvette continued to run in the lead in the GT2 class. Believing the hard part of the race was behind them, the drivers and the rest of the team strained toward the finish at three in the afternoon on Sunday. However, just as all seemed bright, trouble visited the number 64 Corvette.
In the morning hours on Sunday, the number 63 car would go off into the gravel trap. The car would end up being pulled out and get back on its way. However, it would lose a lap to its sister-car and would only have half a lap lead over one of the Porsches following in 3rd. Although the car would overcome the trip through the gravel, another problem would end its run entirely. Not too long after getting back on its way, the car's engine broke while Garcia was behind the wheel.
Though the sister-car was out of the race, the number 64 continued to run strong up at the front of the GT2 field. Then, only about an hour after the troubles struck the number 63 car, a tragic encounter would cost the 64 car as well.
In spite of having superior performance the Peugeot 908s got behind the Audis in the running for the overall lead in the race. This would motivate some of the Peugeot drivers to push hard in the remaining quarter of the race. Running lap times near that of qualifying pace, the tendency was there for the aggressive driving to catch out some of the other competitors. Unfortunately, the leading Corvette would demonstrate this fact quite clearly.
As the early dawn hours turned into late morning, Emmanuel Collard was behind the wheel of the sole C6-R for Corvette Racing. He was looking good and was driving a flawless race. The Peugeots were not having the perfect race, however. In an attempt to climb back up to the overall lead of the race, Anthony Davidson was running lap times near to those his car recorded in qualifying.
Not wanting to back down for one moment, Davidson was flying. Quickly he caught up to Collard going through the Porsche Curves which is generally considered to only have one fast line for all of the classes. To go wide through the curves could spell disaster as there would be little grip. Coming through the last set of sweeping curves, Davidson was rapidly catching up to Collard, who was on the racing line. Davidson made his move and forced Collard out wide. Collard was out where there was little to no grip and would end up sliding off the track and hitting the Armco barrier hard with the rear of the car. This spun the car around leaving it facing the wrong way.
After a good deal of time lost trying to get the car facing the right way, Collard would limp the car back to the pits where the Corvette Racing crew would go to work pulling off the destroyed bodywork and replacing it with all-new bodywork pieces. In twenty-five minutes the crew had managed to rebuild and re-fire the car and sent it back on its way.
At the seventeen hour mark, the number 64 Corvette was running 15th overall and leading the GT2 class. The car was running so well it was beating a number of LMP2 teams and was in front of every single GT1 entry. However, the questionable move by Davidson, who wasn't in the lead in LMP1, would end up costing the Corvette the lead in GT2 and dropped the car down to 22nd overall.
Once back on track, Gavin would take his frustrations out on the track. He would begin turning laps faster than what he had ended up putting in during qualifying. The frustration; however, would soon turn to absolute bitter disappointment.
Just before ten in the morning, problems, of more of a terminal nature, would strike. While flying around the Circuit de la Sarthe, the Corvette suddenly began to slow and smoke began pouring out from the front of the car. An engine problem would end the race for the number 64 C6-R and Corvette Racing on a whole.
To be riding so high throughout two-thirds of the 24 hour race, and then, to be dropped so low so fast, was an absolute heartbreak for the team. Corvette Racing was the team to beat, but unfortunately, circumstances would end up beating them. In spite of the bitter disappointment, the team could still hold their head up high considering how well they did perform when the problems did descend upon the team. But it also made the future, especially for the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans, look incredibly bright.
Though Corvette was out of the race, the event was still not concluded. Five hours of racing still loomed ahead of the other GT2 competitors. Corvette's failure would hand the lead to the number 77 Team Felbermayr Proton Porsche. He was being chased by the AF Corse Ferrari 430 driven by ex-Formula One drivers Jean Alesi and Giancarlo Fisichella, along with Toni Vilander.
Two hours remaining in the race, Felbermayr Proton still led, but in 2nd place was the Hankook Team Farnbacher Ferrari. In 3rd place was the BMS Scuderia Italia SpA team. AF Corse had slipped down to 4th in class.
At the end of 24 hours, the number 77 Felbermayr Proton Porsche driven by Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz and Wolf Henzler would win the GT2 category by two laps over Hankook Team Farnbacher. Finishing between the 2nd place Hankook Team and the 3rd place finishers in GT2 would be the 1st of the GT1 teams. BMS Scuderia Italia SpA would finish the race 3rd in GT2, eleven laps behind the Felbermayr Proton team.
A little less than a month after the incredible high, and deepest low at Le Mans, Corvette Racing, and the American Le Mans Series was back on track making its way through the rest of the season.
The fourth round of the American Le Mans Series took place about 6,000 miles away from Le Mans. The race was the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix and it was held on the 4.48 mile road course at Miller Motorsports Park near Toole, Utah.
Opened in 2006, the full course became the longest circuit in North America beating out Road America in Wisconsin. At an elevation over 4,000 feet, the air is thin and the normally aspirated engines struggle to produce their full potential. Those engines that are turbocharged, or have forced induction, can use the long front stretch to reach speeds of 200 mph before needing to brake for Sunset Bend, or, what is turn one. Featuring some very colorful names for its corners, including Demon, Indecision, Gotcha, Mabey Y'll Makit, Windup and Release, the Miller Motorsports circuit is a technically demanding circuit. The first year in which the track opened it played host to the American Le Mans Series
Built at a cost of $100 million dollars, the motorsports park boasts an on-site medical facility, vintage car museum and a five-million dollar Club House. The large track is located on mostly sandy ground and features the Oquirrh Mountains as its scenic backdrop.
Speed differentials between just the normally-aspirated and turbocharged LMP machines were quite staggering. At the end of the straight, there was as much as 20 mph difference. This meant the speed differential between those turbocharged LMP prototypes and the GT cars would also be quite staggering.
In qualifying, neither of Corvette Racing's machines could quite match the pace of its competitors. Gianmaria Bruni would take the number 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari and turn the fastest lap of the GT field. Within just a few minutes of the start of the qualifying session Bruni would turn in a lap of one minute, forty-seven and six-tenths seconds. This time would just beat out Johannes van Overbeek for Extreme Speed Motorsports who would turn in a lap time just one-tenth slower than Bruni. The second Risi Ferrari, driven by Toni Vilander, would qualify with the third-fastest time.
The best of the Corvettes would be Olivier Beretta in the number 4 C6-R. He would complete a lap in one minute and forty-eight seconds. This time was four-tenths of a second slower than Bruni's best and would leave the number 4 Corvette starting the race from 18th overall and 7th in GT. Johnny O'Connell would be just two-tenths slower than Beretta, and therefore, would start 19th overall and 8th in GT.
Prior to the start of the race, the second Risi Ferrari, number 61, would be sent to the back of the grid due to a ride-height infraction. This would move those who qualified worse than 3rd in GT up one spot even before the race started.
Coming down the long front stretch to get the green flag to start the race, the Robertson Racing, number 40 Ford GT, entry would get a great jump and would manage to separate the Corvettes over the course of the 1st lap of the race. This was just the beginning of troubles for Corvette on the day.
Only one lap into the race, the number 4 Corvette would immediately drop from 16th overall. It would get passed by all of the GT runners, including its number 3 sister-car. Beretta would weave and wiggle the car back-and-forth trying in earnest to get power to return to the car. Unfortunately, the car would become stranded along the side of the road while Beretta tried recycling switches in an effort to overcome the obvious electrical problems the car was having.
Beretta would manage to get the car re-fired and back to the pits. Once in the pits it was found the car had a loose plug that shut down the fuel pressure. Taking the time to find the problem would cost the car a lap and would drop Olivier well back. Once back on his way, Beretta would find himself sitting dead-last in the field. Thus began the car's long haul back up through the field.
Over the course of the first hour, of the two hour and forty-five minute race, the number 3 Corvette would remain just inside the top-five in GT. The number 92 BMW of Rahal Letterman Racing, driven by Tommy Milner, would take the lead after staying out while many of the other top running cars pitted during an early yellow flag period.
As the race went back to green, and stayed green for the next half hour, the number 4 car had to tough duty of trying to claw its way back up to the leaders in the GT class. As the yellow flag flew again fifty minutes into the race, the number 4 had only managed to make its way up to 32nd overall and 12th in class. The number 3 Corvette was running well in the 3rd position behind the number 92 BMW of Rahal Letterman Racing and the number 62 Ferrari of Risi Competizione.
Over the next hour of the race, the number 3 Corvette continued to run in 3rd place behind the number 62 Risi Ferrari and the 92 BMW for Rahal Letterman Racing. By this time as well, the number 4 Corvette had managed to make his way forward to 20th overall and 10th in class.
Going into the final forty-five minutes, the number 3 Corvette continued to run in 3rd place in GT, while the number 4 had managed to make its way up to 19th overall and 10th in class. Unfortunately for the number 3 Corvette, they would be served with a penalty for their pitstop. The stop and go penalty given to the number 3 Corvette was for running over equipment in the pits and would cause the car to fall down to 5th in GT. This would enable the number 45 Flying Lizard Porsche to take over 3rd place while the number 90 BMW would also come forward and come up to 4th.
In spite of the penalty, the number 3 Corvette, with Magnussen behind the wheel, would get back up to speed and would be back on the hunt trying to make up for the costs due to the penalty. Magnussen would fight hard and would come back from dropping down to 5th in class. A late puncture on the 45 Porsche would allow Magnussen to move forward. Then, Jan would end up being able to get by the number 90 BMW for 3rd.
The number 62 Risi Ferrari was unaffected by the battle going on behind them as their lead was quite significant. The Risi Ferrari would go on to take the victory at the end of the two hours and forty-five minute race. The number 92 BMW for Rahal Letterman Racing would hold on to finish 2nd. Magnussen would stretch out his advantage and would comfortably beat the number 90 BMW.
The early fuel pressure problems for the number 4 Corvette would hurt them over the course of the race. As with the first couple of races, mistakes could cost a team in a huge way. The mistake of not making sure the plug for the fuel pressure would end up costing the number 4. The number 4 would end up finishing the race in 19th overall and 10th in the GT class.
If Corvette Racing could manage to keep from committing simple mistakes the team had proven throughout the course of the season it had the speed to be at the top of the GT field. At the next round of the ALMS it would be very important to commit no mistakes. Lime Rock Park is fast and short. Even a regular pitstop under green flag conditions costs a team a lap. Therefore, a little mistake could cost a team dearly.
Corvette Racing had managed to overcome so trouble and a late-minute penalty to have one of its cars finish on the podium in Utah. After the celebrations, the team packed up and headed across the country to Lime Rock Park, in western Connecticut.
Touted as the 'Road Racing Center of the East', Lime Rock Park first opened in 1957. The 1.53 mile circuit follows the natural terrain around the area and consists of a number of elevation changes and blind corners. Unique in motorsports, Lime Rock Park features no grandstand seating and has more of a park-like feel than a motorsports venue. A site for many different road racing series, Lime Rock, at one time was considered the home track for Paul Newman when he had his own Newman-Haas Racing Team.
At only a mile and a half, lap times around the circuit are blindingly quick for all classes. The prototype cars are capable of turning in lap times, on a dry track, of under a minute. The GT field, also because of the nature of the circuit, turn in lap times not all that much slower.
Lime Rock would be a slippery one. Rain would fall throughout the practice sessions. The intensity of the rain would vary as well making it tough on the drivers. It seemed just about everyone had a moment where they spun a car around. Gavin would spin the number 4 Corvette during one of the practice sessions. In spite of the spin, Gavin would prove to be one of the fastest in the GT field.
All was not well for the number 4 Corvette, however. During one of the practice sessions the car would suffer from a broken drive shaft and would require being towed back to the paddock for repairs. Speaking of the troubles, Beretta would comment, 'Suddenly the car went sideways and the wheel went out of the car. It was strange but there is so much water that you don't know what is wrong, and then boom, something broke. I didn't want to smash the car so I stopped the car. It was not the time to make a stupid move.'
In qualifying, the rain continued to fall, but had lessened to a degree. The Corvette crew would go to work repairing the number 4 Corvette, and immediately, Gavin would turn the fastest lap in qualifying just one minute into the session. Just three minutes into the session, both of the Corvettes managed to turn laps of one minute and five seconds, or, even faster. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough.
Patrick Long would lap the circuit in one minute, three and nine-tenths seconds. This would end up being four-tenths faster than Wolf Henzler in the Falken Tire Porsche. Jaime Melo, in the number 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari would set the third-fastest time in qualifying with a time just two hundredths of a second slower than Henzler.
Jan Magnussen would turn the fastest lap of the Corvettes. He would start 4th in GT with a time two-tenths slower than Melo's time. Oliver Gavin's best time would end up being just good enough to start 6th in GT. Overall, the two Corvettes would start 12th and 14th.
The race began at two in the afternoon with air temperatures well into the middle-90s. The track was dry, but it appeared rain was on its way from upstate New York.
All of the cars managed to make it through turn one alright, but one of the LMPC cars would go off the track at turn three. At the end of the 1st lap, both of the Corvettes were running around the top-five. The number 3 was running 4th while the number 4 was in 6th in GT.
Twenty-five minutes into the race, Melo took the number 62 Ferrari hard into the tires at turn one. Another couple cars would also have trouble; therefore, bringing out the yellow for the second time. This enabled both of the Corvettes to move up to 3rd and 4th in GT.
When the race went back to green, Beretta was under attack from the two BMWs, which had proven to be quite fast over the course of the weekend. Beretta would end up getting passed by both going into turn one. To add insult to the injury, Beretta would be served with a penalty for blocking. He would have to come into the pits for a stop and go.
It wasn't raining, but it sure seemed that way for Corvette Racing. No more than two minutes after Beretta served his penalty in the number 4 Corvette, the number 3 Corvette, driven by O'Connell, would end up coming together with a GTC Porsche out on the track. The result would be that the number 3 would have rear end damage and the car was slowing out on the course. The troubles would end up dropping the car all the way down to 25th overall. The number 4 car had managed to overcome the stop and go penalty and was back up to 5th overall an hour into the race.
Two hours into the race, the number 3 Corvette was out of the race and the number 4 was running 5th in class. The two BMWs were out in front being chased by the number 45 Flying Lizard Porsche and the number 61 Risi Ferrari.
After some trouble with traffic, Patrick Long managed to take the lead in GT and was ahead of the number 92 BMW by two seconds with only five minutes remaining in the race. The number 90 BMW was in 3rd place. The number 4 Corvette was still stuck behind the number 61 Risi Competizione Ferrari in 5th place.
At the end of the race, Long would take the win in the Flying Lizard Porsche over Auberlen in the number 92 BMW. Joey Hand would make it two BMWs on the podium after finishing the race 3rd. The number 4 Corvette would end the disappointing race two laps down in 5th place in GT.
After another disappointing race for the team, the Corvette Racing team would have only two weeks before its next race and another chance to right the ship.
The American Le Mans Series would leave Connecticut and back-track west a few hundred miles to Mid-Ohio for the Mid-Ohio Sport Car Challenge on the 7th of August.
Mid-Ohio is another favorite venue for the ALMS series, its drivers and teams. Refurbished over the years, the 2.25 mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course features some blind corners and elevation changes, but also one long straight that allows the prototype cars to reach speeds greater than 180 mph before braking for the up and down turn four and five complex. Opened in 1962, sports cars and prototypes had been coming to the circuit, off-and-on, since the early 1990s.
In 2009, Corvette Racing made its GT2 debut at Mid-Ohio. Prior to the change in classes, Corvette Racing had owned Mid-Ohio. One of the team's drivers, Johnny O'Connell, had managed to score five victories at Mid-Ohio over the course of just one decade. In fact, he had the most number of victories at Mid-Ohio than any other driver in any other class.
Over the course of the practice sessions, Corvette Racing would pull from their years of GT1 dominance and would have both of its cars amongst the three-fastest in the GT field. But then, in qualifying, things changed.
Both of the Corvettes were fast in qualifying right away and throughout the first-half of the twenty minute session. However, with ten minutes remaining, Toni Vilander would lap the 2.25 mile circuit the fastest. He would take and wield the number 61 Risi Ferrari around the circuit in one minute and nineteen seconds. Vilander would be joined at the front of the GT field by its Risi sister-car, the number 62 driven by Gianmaria Bruni. Bruni's time was only eight hundredths of a second slower. Oliver Gavin would put the number 4 Corvette 3rd in the GT field with a time just three-tenths slower than Vilander. The number 3 Corvette, driven by Jan Magnussen, would only be seven-hundredths of a second slower than Gavin and would start 4th.
Under mostly sunny skies, the race got underway. Both of the Corvettes would hold station 3rd and 4th in GT. In the opening laps, the field was incredibly tight between the LMPC cars and the first of the GT runners. This kept everything bunched up. Very quickly, O'Connell came under pressure from the two BMWs. The number 90 would end up getting around O'Connell taking over 4th place.
Through the first forty-five minutes of the race the two Risi Ferraris ran 1st and 2nd. The number 4 Corvette driven by Beretta would run 3rd and the number 3 Corvette, with O'Connell at the wheel ran 5th.
After a safety car period forty-seven minutes into the race, the number 4 Corvette had managed to make its way up to 2nd behind the number 92 Rahal Letterman BMW, which had used a great pitstop to leap further forward in the running order. The number 3 Corvette also was running an impressive race in 3rd.
An hour and ten minutes into the race, things started to go bad for the number 3 Corvette. Only about a dozen laps after its first pitstop, the number 3 Corvette would have to come back into the pits to have water added. But then, only two laps later, the car would be back on pit road. This time the car would be taken behind the wall. Seven minutes later it would be announced: the number 3 Corvette was officially retired from the race due to a radiator problem.
The failure left Corvette's hopes squarely on the shoulders of the number 4 car. In contrast to its sister-car, it was running great. It was running 2nd behind the number 92 BMW, but was pressuring hard. Then, an hour and a half into the race, Gavin would get around Auberlen for the lead in the GT class. Gavin would lead for the next twenty minutes until the safety car appeared again just before the two hour mark in the race.
The top-five would all come to the pits at the same time. Gavin would lead them down the pit lane. After service Gavin would emerge in 5th place. When the race went back to green, Jaime Melo would pass Auberlen for the lead in class. Gavin was stuck in 5th place.
Neither of the BMWs had pitted during the yellow. As a result, their tires were much more worn than many of the competitors. As a result, Gavin would get by both of the BMWs and would be running 2nd behind the Risi Ferrari number 62 with only twenty minutes remaining in the race.
Gavin was tucked right up under Melo's rear wing when the other Risi Ferrari would spin with another Ferrari 430 to bring out a late caution. This would tighten the field back up once again.
As the race went back to green, only ten minutes remained in the race. With less than five minutes left, Gavin was only three-tenths behind Melo and charging hard. After all of the difficulties the team had been facing over the course of the season it seemed Gavin would choose discretion.
Melo would end up holding off Gavin to take the win. Gavin seemed to back off slightly as he would end up half of a second behind at the finish despite being less than a tenth at more than one point in the later going. The number 92 Rahal Letterman Racing BMW would end up finish the race 3rd.
This was a good result for the team after the early disappointment due to the number 3 car retiring with a radiator problem. The 2nd place also helped the team to solidify its position amongst the top-five in the GT standings. With the conclusion of the race it was off to Wisconsin.
Round seven of the American Le Mans Series was in southeastern Wisconsin at Road America. It was the American Le Mans Series powered by eStar.
Located near Elkhart Lake, Road America is another very popular venue for the drivers and spectators alike. Capable of hosting over a 150,000 people, the 4.04 mile road course remains a favorite with drivers for its natural elevation changes and high top-speeds. Built in 1955 after circuit in downtown Elkhart Lake was discontinued, the circuit came to host a number of racing series over the years. Then, in 2002, the ALMS came for the first time.
Perhaps most recognized for its climb up a hill along the start/finish straight and for its 'Kink' along its backstretch, Road America boasts of numerous places to pass and a good variety of challenging corners that require teams to strike that important balance between speed and handling.
Experience was on Corvette's side. Oliver Gavin and Johnny O'Connell were two of only three in the field to have started every single one of the previous races held at the Road America circuit. Using the experience and its excellent top-speed, Corvette would manage to get two cars into the top-three for times during one of the practice sessions.
Under very humid skies, qualifying began for the GT field. The speed of the Corvettes was clearly helping its two cars to pull to the front of the GT field. Magnussen would turn in the fastest lap in the session, only to be eclipsed by Gavin, and all of his experience, just a moment later. Things could not have looked brighter for Corvette Racing after qualifying.
Gavin had managed to take the pole in the GT class. His time around the circuit was two minutes, six and five-tenths seconds. Magnussen would make it close, but would end up a little less than two-tenths of a second slower and would start 2nd in class. Pierre Kaffer, in the number 61 Risi Ferrari, would end up starting 3rd with a time four-tenths slower than Gavin's.
Speaking of his pole Gavin would make it very clear, 'I'm delighted…It's the first one for us this year. I don't think anyone at the team will miss that we've had a difficult year. We've had a lot of ups and downs…Jan got close but good for me and good for Corvette that we're in first…I feel that here we have a slightly better car. I want to keep the momentum going and if we can then I'll be delighted.'
At the start of the race, both of the Corvettes managed to stay at the front of the ultra-competitive GT field. Beretta led in the number 4 Corvette over O'Connell in the number 3 car. The increasingly-impressive BMW team had their number 90 car running right behind O'Connell in 3rd.
The pace of the BMW and the number 61 Risi Ferrari were quite impressive early on. Twenty minutes into the race, both of the Corvettes got shuffled backward. The number 4 ran 2nd and the number 3 ran 5th.
Corvette tried a different strategy after an early yellow. The number 3 car came in with many of the other front-running cars, but the number 4 stayed out. This enabled Beretta to re-gain the lead once the race went back to green.
An hour into the race, Beretta would pit and would hand the car over to Oliver Gavin. This stop would take place under green flag conditions and would drop the number 4 car all the way down to 9th in GT. What would hurt would be the fact a yellow would come out just a few laps later. This kept the number 4 well down in the GT running order. Unfortunately, the number 3 C6-R was also well down in the GT running order.
When two hours of the race had been completed, the number 90 BMW had just gotten around the number 45 Flying Lizard Porsche for the lead. The number 62 Risi Ferrari was in 3rd place just ahead of the number 3 Corvette driven by Magnussen. The untimely stop for Beretta kept Gavin down in 7th.
Inside the last forty-five minutes of the race, Gavin was on an absolute terror. He would record the fastest lap of the race with a lap of two minutes and eight seconds. Thirty minutes left in the race, the clearly faster Gavin had managed to get past Magnussen. One lap later, Gavin would also get by Bruni in the number 62 Ferrari. In both cases, Gavin had masterfully used traffic to his benefit. One lap after Gavin had gotten by Bruni, Magnussen was inspired by his teammate and would also get by Bruni. This made it Corvette Racing 3rd and 4th.
Unfortunately, Gavin and Magnussen were too far back to have anything for Dirk Mueller in the number 90 BMW. He would go on to take the victory by more than two and a half seconds over Patrick Long in the Flying Lizard Porsche. Gavin would end up a little over two seconds behind Long, but would still end up in 3rd place. Magnussen would follow his teammate home in 4th position.
In what was the first time all season long, Corvette Racing had managed to score podium finishes in two-straight races. This was the form everybody had come to know and expect from Corvette Racing. The form was coming just in time as there were only two rounds left in the American Le Mans Series Championship.
The eighth round of the American Le Mans Series would actually take place north of the border in Canada. All of the prototype and GT cars were at Mosport preparing for the Grand Prix of Mosport on the 29th of August.
Designed and built in the late 1950s, Mosport was only the second purpose-built road course in Canada at the time. It would come to host the Canadian Grand Prix for Formula One in 1967 and would host the race every year up to 1977. The American Le Mans Series had begun coming to the track in 1999 and had come every single year since then.
Remaining relatively unchanged since its opening in 1961, the circuit became very popular with spectators and drivers for its wonderfully scenic location and for its flowing, sweeping nature. This flowing nature of the track enables times around the 2.54 mile circuit to remain just above the one minute mark.
Mosport holds a special place in Corvette Racing's memory. After switching to GT2 the previous season, Johnny O'Connell would go out, on what was his 100th start, and promptly took the victory for the team.
Coming into the race, the team made a change in its driver lineup. Magnussen and O'Connell were split up. Instead, Magnussen and Gavin were paired together in the number 4 car while O'Connell and Beretta were together in the number 3.
In spite of having a very fast car, neither of the Corvettes were turning the fastest laps amongst the GT field. In qualifying, the same story continued. Only six minutes into the session Gianmaria Bruni would turn the fastest lap in the 62 Risi Ferrari. His time around the circuit was only one minute and seventeen seconds. Jorg Bergmeister, in the 45 Flying Lizard Porsche, would be second-fastest with a time three-tenths slower. Tommy Milner would help the number 92 BMW to start the race 3rd. His time was just three-hundredths of a second slower than Bergmeister's time.
Amongst the Corvette team, Gavin would manage to earn the fastest time. He would miss starting in the top-three in class by only two-tenths of a second. Instead, Gavin would start 4th. O'Connell would have some work to do if he wanted to repeat the win in GT. He would start 6th.
If the morning warm-up was any indication as to how the race would go then things were looking great for Corvette. Both of its cars were the fastest amongst the GT field. In fact, Gavin would manage to turn a lap within a second and a half of the pole time set by Bruni.
Despite the pace the two cars were turning in the warm-up before the start of the race, little wrinkles were beginning strike right from the start. Gavin had managed to come all the way from 4th at the start to take over 2nd place by the end of the 1st lap of the race. In contrast, O'Connell was moving, but backward. The hood was loose on the car and would cause him to slide down the order. At the end of the 1st lap, Johnny had managed to hold onto his 6th place starting position in class but would lose that when he would come into the pits one lap later to have the hood taped. After the stop, Johnny, the returning champion in GT, was running dead-last.
Gavin continued to run in 2nd throughout the first fifty-seven minutes of the race. Gavin would even briefly lead the GT race as the other competitors pitted. By this point in the race, O'Connell had managed to climb all the way to 6th.
A couple of laps after taking the lead in the class, Gavin would bring the number 4 Corvette into the pits for service and its mandatory driver change. Momentum shifts over the course of a race can happen in a split second. The smallest circumstance can end up changing the course of a race. This would happen to Magnussen once behind the wheel of the number 4 Corvette.
Gavin had been running in the top-two throughout the first hour of the race. When Jan rejoined the track he would emerge amidst a number of prototypes. Five minutes after the pitstoop, Magnussen was on his way back into the pits. The number 16 Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda apparently made contact with the Corvette cutting down the right-front tire. It would end up taking a couple of stops to correct the problems with the car. As a result, the 2nd place GT Corvette would fall all the way down to 6th behind its sister-car.
One hour remaining in the race, Magnussen would pass Beretta in the number 3 Corvette and would take off trying to track down the top-four in class. Then, just about ten minutes later, the number 48 GTC Porsche would get sent hard into the Armco barrier along Andretti Straight. The car would tear out a large portion of the barrier, and therefore, would bring out the safety car.
The field would circulate under the safety car for almost twenty minutes before the race was stopped altogether. The field remained frozen, awaiting crews trying to fix the barrier along the side of the track. This would cause a number of teams to scramble thinking about tactics.
After forty-five minutes under red flag conditions, the officials were made aware of the fact it would take too long to try and repair the barrier in order to complete the rest of the race distance. The officials, not wanting the race to finish under red flag conditions, had order the drivers back to the cars for one remaining lap under the safety car. The safety car would lead the field around under what would be yellow/white flag conditions. That was it. The field was frozen as it was when the race came to a stop.
As a result of the destroyed barrier and the safety car finish, Jorg Bergmeister would coast to victory in the 45 Flying Lizard Porsche. Gianmaria Bruni would follow in 2nd and Tommy Milner would finish 3rd in the BMW.
No doubt still suffering from a bitter taste in the mouth, Jan Magnussen would finish 4th just ahead of teammate Beretta in the sister-Corvette. Both cars had proven to be incredibly fast. The number 4 car was running near the point throughout the first half of the race, but things changed in the blink of an eye. The smallest mistake or on-track circumstance had been costing the team all year long. Once again the team looked on the verge of a victory only to have it snatched away by petty little instances.
One race remained for the team on the season. One race in which to get everything right, to have everything go right, in order to have the possibility of earning victory. Incidentally, the one last chance the team would have would be one of the most important races on the calendar. No extra pressure or anything.
The ninth, and final, round of the American Le Mans Series would take place on the 2nd of October. Besides Le Mans, it was perhaps the most important race on the year for any team competing in the American Le Mans Series, or any wanting to take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Petit Le Mans has the distinction of being the only other race, besides Le Mans itself, where the winner in each class gets an automatic invitation to the 24 hour race the following year.
While not as long as the 12 Hours of Sebring, the teams would still have to earn that invitation to Le Mans the following season. Petit Le Mans is a test of either 1,000 miles or ten hours, whichever comes first. This tough event would also be the last opportunity Corvette Racing would have to score a victory in GT.
Located just north of Braselton, Georgia, Road Atlanta serves as the site for the Petit Le Mans and is the base of operations for the International Motor Sports Association. Consisting of twelve turns and 2.54 miles of circuit, Road Atlanta is mainly built around its sweeping back-straight, but is also known for its Esses that sweep around and downhill and then climb back out on its way to the long straight.
The circuit opened in 1970 and first held a Can-Am race where Stirling Moss was its Grand Marshal. In the mid-1990s, the track was purchased by Don Panoz. He would lead the way in bringing the track up to FIA standards so that it could hold international events. When motor racing resumed in 1998 the first Petit Le Mans was held. In 2008, the event drew nearly 80,000 fans to Petit Le Mans. 2010 would see a crowd even larger than that.
Petit Le Mans was not only part of the American Le Mans Series calendar, it was also part of a new global initiative for Le Mans racing called the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC). It was the second round of this new series and would draw teams from all over the world, but mainly those that would compete in the Le Mans Series in Europe. Therefore, the field was full with a number of prototypes, as well as, GT cars. In all, forty-five cars would start the race.
Corvette Racing would have the usual suspects from the ALMS to do battle with at the race. During practice; however, Corvette Racing was proving to be fastest. In the second practice session, the two Corvettes topped the time charts in GT2.
Rain would fall during many of the practice sessions, and therefore, a good number of the teams would elect not to participate in the changing conditions at the risk of causing terrible damage to a car.
Throughout all of the practice sessions in which the team participated they had at least one car in the top-three in best times in GT. In many cases, the team either had the fastest time, or, managed to get both of its cars into the top-three in time. The big test would be qualifying.
At a little after three in the afternoon, the GT field rolled out for a twenty-five minute qualifying session. In qualifying, it seemed to be all Risi Competizione. It definitely was an impressive time for Ferrari 430s. Jaime Melo would grab the pole with a time of one minute, nineteen and eight-tenths seconds. This time would end up being about two-tenths faster than Melo's Risi Competizione teammate, Gianmaria Bruni, in the number 62 Ferrari. Another Ferrari 430, Extreme Speed Motorsports' 02, would end up starting 3rd after setting a time nine-hundredths of a second slower than Bruni.
In spite of all of the speed shown during practice, the best any of the Corvette Racing cars would do would be to start 6th. Jan Magnussen, driving the number 4 C6-R once again, would turn in the fastest time amongst the team. It was only seven-tenths of a second slower, but only good enough to start 6th in the extremely competitive GT class. Olivier Beretta would end up being only about eight-hundredths of a second slower than Magnussen, and therefore, would start 7th in class.
The cars rolled away in preparation for an 11:30am start time. Coming around the bend onto the start/finish straight, the field accelerated quickly and then swept around the right-hander toward the esses. The 02 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari would have some trouble during the 1st lap and would get ushered all the way down to 10th in class. This moved the two Corvettes up who were running right together on the track.
After a yellow flag period just twenty minutes into the race, things settled down. Oliver Gavin, in the period after the yellow, had the number 4 Corvette all the way up to 2nd for a period and would hang around the top-three over the course of the next hour.
The number 3 Corvette lost some ground in the pitstop, but would come charging back up. Forty-six minutes into the race, Beretta would manage to pass two cars on the same lap and would go from running 6th to running 4th right behind the number 4 Corvette. Once again, the two Corvettes would run together, stalking the number 61 Risi Ferrari and the number 90 BMW.
Just before two hours into the race, the number 4 Corvette had taken the lead. Mika Salo was tagged by a slower car and Magnussen would take advantage. Jan would pass Salo and take the lead. The contact would end up causing Salo to have to come into the pits for new tires on the number 61 Ferrari. This helped to bring the number 3 Corvette up into the top-three as well.
Over the course of the next two hours, Magnussen and Gavin would get to enjoy the view as they would be at the front of the GT field. The number 3 Corvette was up and down the running order, but remained inside the top-five and even ran as high as 2nd during this period.
Shy of the four hour mark another yellow flag flew. All of the front-running GT cars pitted. As the green flag would wave to get the race going once again, Antonio Garcia would get by Emmanuel Collard to take the lead with the number 3 Corvette. The number 4 sister-car was right there behind in 2nd. Corvette Racing was looking extremely good.
Through the next two hours of running, the number 3 Corvette would run inside the top-four and would even sit in 2nd place for a spell. The number 4 had a much tougher road to haul. After leading for so long just a little earlier, the number 4 car would be mired outside of the top-five for quite a while. However, after pitstops during a yellow, and trouble with the number 61 Risi Ferrari, it was back up to running 4th in GT, right behind its sister-car.
Both of the cars would remain inside the top-four over the course of the next two hours. The number 4 car would overcome its bad fortunes and would get back to leading the race in GT for another half hour.
One hour remaining in the race, both of the Corvettes were still running in the race, and neither of them had made too many, if any, mistakes over the course of the race. This was why the two cars were both running inside the top-four in class.
Twenty minutes remaining in the race, the number 4 car was chasing the number 62 Risi Ferrari in 2nd. It had an eleven second gap to try and overcome. The number 3 Corvette had gotten passed by the number 92 BMW and was trying to fight back from 5th.
Ten minutes remained in the race and each of the front-running GT cars needed to stop one more time for a splash of fuel. Gavin would come in first followed by Beretta. Gavin, in the number 4 Corvette, would add only fuel. Beretta would add fuel and tires, even though there were only about ten minutes remaining in the race. The Corvette team would end up coming in a couple of laps before the rest of the front-running GT class cars. Toni Vilander would come in with only five minutes remaining and would retain the lead upon rejoining the track. However, the race wasn't over yet.
Gavin continued to push hard even though it was the last lap of the race. It was a good thing he did. Vilander would come to a stop out on the course. This handed the lead to Gavin who would race on to the win! Gavin would bring the number 4 Corvette home ahead of the number 01 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari and the number 62 Risi Ferrari. The number 3 Corvette would end up finishing the race 6th.
The Petit Le Mans victory would be a win that hardly anybody in the Corvette Racing team had realized come to them. Jan Magnussen explained the last lap, 'The win was a huge surprise to everybody. We were expecting, like everyone, to settle for second. We weren't cheering that much. We saw Gavin's name pop in the lead. All hell broke lose in the end. Gavin didn't know he won until turn one or turn three until one of the engineers told him. It was a fantastic race.'
'At the end I looked around and saw everyone was happy. I was shocked when I found out we won the race', added Collard.
'I saw a Ferrari waving back and forth on the back stretch and I didn't know if it was the 61 or the 62 in front of me…when I went by I saw the weaving car was the 62. I kept asking, ‘Was that the leader?', ‘Was that the leader?' No one would answer me, in turn one they came on the radio and said we won!', Gavin would say explaining the last confusing moments.
Doug Fehan had already declared, after the failure at Le Mans, the team would be back the following year in search of victory in GT. The win at Petit Le Mans would only end up making it clear the focus for 2011. To end the sophomore season with a tough win only helpes the team to realize what they need to do for the upcoming 2011 season. The goals are simple: winning the championship in GT in the American Le Mans Series and to be the GT champion at Le Mans. If their determination to return to Le Mans for 2011 would have been met with any resistance they had earned their ticket into the race.
In pursuit of those two quests for the 2011 season, Corvette Racing shook up its driver lineup. After competing against him throughout the 2010 season, Corvette Racing announced, in January, that Tommy Milner would be joining the team. He would join Olivier Beretta and Antonio Garcia driving the number 4 Corvette.
The team wasn't done. Richard Westbrook would also being joining the team. He would join Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen driving the number 4 Corvette C6-R. Westbrook brings a lot of GT2 experience to the team having won the FIA GT2 Championship in 2009.
Speaking of the two new additions, Doug Fehan would remark, 'We look at our competition continuously and intensely, and it became very clear that Tommy Milner and Richard Westbrook have the qualities we value at Corvette Racing.' 'They are quick, intelligent, team-oriented and disciplined in their approach…We are very excited to have these two talented young drivers join America's most successful production sports car team, and we look forward to long and rewarding relationships with both of them', Fehan would add.
Westbrook would explain his excitement for joining the team very simply, 'I've raced against the Corvette enough times to know it's better to be driving one than racing against one…Everyone on the team is hungry for success and expectations are high, so we have to deliver.'
GM Racing Director, Mark Kent, summed up the upcoming season with the two new drivers and the C6-R, very clearly when he said, 'We believe that they will help us to reach our objective.'
'Corvette Racing Announces 2011 Driver Lineup', (http://www.corvetteracing.com/history/2011releases/general/racing1.shtml). Corvette Racing. http://www.corvetteracing.com/history/2011releases/general/racing1.shtml. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
'Corvette Racing to Return to Le Mans in 2010', (http://www.corvetteracing.com/history/2010releases/general/racing1.shtml). Corvette Racing. http://www.corvetteracing.com/history/2010releases/general/racing1.shtml. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
'Track to Street: Corvette Racing Series, Episode 6', (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6b5eFAgsogE&feature=player_embedded). YouTube.com. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6b5eFAgsogE&feature=player_embedded. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
Wikipedia contributors, '2009 24 Hours of Le Mans', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 23 February 2011, 13:41 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=2009_24_Hours_of_Le_Mans&oldid=415506576 accessed 27 April 2011
'2010 Season Results by Race', (http://www.americanlemans.com/primary1.php?cat=results|sr|2010). American Le Mans Series. http://www.americanlemans.com/primary1.php?cat=results|sr|2010. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
Wikipedia contributors, '2010 24 Hours of Le Mans', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 April 2011, 23:10 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=2010_24_Hours_of_Le_Mans&oldid=424112503 accessed 27 April 2011
'24 Heures du Mans: Live Timing', (http://www.lemans.org/en/courses/24h-chrono-en-direct-2010.html). Le Mans.org. http://www.lemans.org/en/courses/24h-chrono-en-direct-2010.html. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
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Wikipedia contributors, '2010 American Le Mans Series season', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 April 2011, 16:17 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=2010_American_Le_Mans_Series_season&oldid=423191193 accessed 27 April 2011
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By Jeremy McMullen
Corvette Racing to Introduce Corvette C6.R in GT2 Class at Mid-Ohio Sports Car CourseNext-Generation Race Cars Strengthen Links Between Competition and Production Corvettes
Corvette Racing will open a new chapter wîth 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, §teering system, windshield, and other components. The race team has prepared the cars for the rigors of endurance racing wîth 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 wîth 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 wîth GM's marketing and business objectives in racing.'
Previous versions of the Corvette C5-R and C6.R race cars have dominated the GTS and GT1 categories in the last decade, winning 77 races and eight consecutive ALMS championships. The GT1 Corvettes were retired following Corvette Racing's sixth victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 14, 2009.
|Engine : 6.0 L., 8-cylinder|
Power: 470 hp
Torque: 535 ft-lbs
'Behind the scenes, the race team and the production car team have grown closer together, finding numerous ways to support each other and to make both cars better,' Juechter §äid. 'Most automotive companies give lip service to claims like 'racing improves the breed' or 'race on Sunday, sell on Monday'. For team Corvette, it is a daily reality. It is now impossible to imagine one team without the other.'
The upcoming GT regulations required a comprehensive redesign of the Corvette C6.R package. In place of the 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 wîth wheel flares. In accordance wîth 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 §teering column and §teering 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 wîth an aluminum frame,' explained Corvette Racing engineering director Doug Louth. 'Working in conjunction wîth 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 wîth 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.'
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, wîth a corresponding reduction in engine output from 590 to 470 horsepower. 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 wîth the use of E85R ethanol racing fuel. (concept carz)
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.
Corvette Racing also has the continued support of its long-time sponsors and technical partners. Compuware is the team's primary sponsor, wîth Mobil 1 supplying low-friction lubricants and Michelin providing its world-class racing tires. Corvette Racing's sponsors also include XM Satellite Radio, ÚAW-GM, Genuine Corvette Accessories, Bose, Motorola, PRS Guitars, and BBS.
'Compuware leads the world in application performance solutions, and partnering wîth Corvette Racing gives us another high-tech, high-performance and high-impact platform for communicating to our customers and prospects,' said Compuware Chairman and CEO Peter Karmanos, Jr. 'The launch of the Corvette C6.R in GT2 is a great extension to our relationship wîth General Motors, Chevy and Corvette. We look forward to even more victories in the months ahead.'
The GT2-spec Corvettes were designed, built and tested on a compressed schedule. The program was approved and announced in September 2008, and construction of the first chassis began in early December. The first track test was conducted at Road Atlanta on April 8-9, followed by single-car tests in Elkhart Lake, Wis., and Sebring, Fla.
'The Corvette Racing team had to take on several challenges simultaneously to execute this program,' said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager. 'We were preparing for our regular race season wîth the GT1 cars while designing the GT2 version. The cars were being built and tested in the midst of our preparations for Le Mans. The team was multi-tasking to the extreme, operating on a leaner budget and a faster timeline. It was a monumental effort to have these cars ready for the Mid-Ohio race.'
Advanced technology tools enabled Corvette Racing to meet the challenge. 'With the short development schedule, we relied on 'virtual' design and computer simulation more than ever before,' said team manager Gary Pratt. 'We made design, engineering and manufacturing simultaneous processes as much as possible. For example, while the first chassis was being built, we continued to run computer simulations on suspension geometry and refined the aerodynamics using CFD (computational fluid dynamics) because these areas didn't have to be finalized until later in the production timeline. We have developed the capabilities to do finite element analysis and composite fabrication in-house, which has accelerated our design and production cycle.
'We're not running for a championship this year, so we're lòòking at the upcoming races as preparation for 2010,' Pratt §äid. 'Our only testing from this point on will be at the races, and we'll be doing it in the public eye. Certainly we hope to achieve the same level of success that we did in GT1, but the caliber of the competition we will face in GT2 is very high. When we started in GT1 in 1999, it took a while to win; now we have 10 years of experience that should help us to become competitive in a new category. Everyone at Corvette Racing is lòòking forward to the challenge.'
Fehan is confident but cautious about Corvette Racing's prospects in the GT2 category: 'In the limited testing we've done so far, we've been very impressed wîth the car's durability, reliability and performance,' he §äid. 'We'll continue to focus on those three factors in the upcoming races. We view the rest of this year as a development cycle, and we believe that our experience as a team in preparation, race strategy, and pit stop execution should allow us to be competitive even if there is a slight performance disparity.'
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.
About General Motors: General Motors Company, one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 235,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 140 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 34 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's largest national market is the Únited States, followed by China, Brazil, the Únited Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Germany. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors Company acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation.Source - Chevrolet
Corvette Racing White Paper: Inside the Next-Generation Corvette C6.RTechnical Insights on Corvette Racing's Production-Based GT Race Car
Corvette Racing is moving toward the future of production-based sports car racing wîth the introduction of the next-generation Corvette C6.R race car. With international regulations converging around a single GT class, Corvette Racing will continue its motorsports heritage by racing against manufacturers and marques that Corvette competes wîth in the marketplace. This white paper highlights the design and development of the latest version of the Corvette C6.R and spotlights its technical features.
The second-generation Corvette C6.R is the successor to the championship-winning C5-R and C6.R race cars that have dominated the GTS and GT1 categories in the last decade. Corvette Racing retired its GT1 Corvette C6.R race cars following the team's sixth victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 14, 2009. Corvette Racing will compete in the GT2 category of the American Le Mans Series for the remainder of the 2009 season, starting at the series' sixth round at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 8. During this transition, Corvette Racing will test and develop the next-generation C6.R race cars in anticipation of a unified GT class in 2010.
PRODÚCTION-BASED PLATFORMThe next-generation Corvette C6.R race car has strong ties to its production counterpart. Únder the leadership of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the Corvette Racing program's key objectives include reducing costs, encouraging independent teams to purchase and race Corvettes, and reinforcing the relevance of racing technology to production vehicles.
Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager: 'Key elements in the decision to move to the new class were the strong visual and mechanical similarities between production Corvettes and the racing Corvettes, along wîth the increased production content in the GT2 race car. Corvette is a technological development platform for GM, and this move provided the opportunity to design and develop technology and components that would be relevant to future Corvettes and other GM vehicles. This connection drew the race team even closer to the production Corvette group and gave us new areas to explore together.'
Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer: 'Behind the scenes, the race team and the production car team have grown closer together, finding numerous ways to support each other and to make both cars better. Most automotive companies give lip service to claims like 'racing improves the breed' or 'race on Sunday, sell on Monday'. For team Corvette, it is a daily reality. It is now impossible to imagine one team without the other.
'The move to GT2 only strengthens the trajectory we were on. The Corvette race and production teams will grow even closer together, and so will the cars. Having more commonality will increase the synergies in the development process. Facing our market rivals on the track will be a thrill for race fans and strong evidence that potential sports car customers should buy a Corvette. I am confident that endurance racing in GT2 will be an enormous benefit to our customers and to General Motors.'
The regulations require the Corvette C6.R race car to be based on a production vehicle. This designated vehicle then determines the specifications for homologation (acceptance and approval) of the racing version. The GT1 version of the Corvette C6.R was homologated on the production Corvette Z06. A crucial step in the design of the GT2 version of the Corvette C6.R was the selection of the Corvette ZR1 as the basis for its homologation.
Doug Louth, Corvette Racing engineering director: 'Early in the design process we had to decide whether to use the base Corvette coupe wîth its steel chassis and narrow bodywork or the Corvette Z06 or ZR1 models, which have an aluminum chassis and wider bodywork. We ran a number of simulations and CFD studies comparing the wide versus narrow bodies and looked at various track width options. In the end, the data favored the wider car, even at a high-speed, low-drag track like Le Mans. Fortunately that aligned wîth the marketing objective to showcase the ZR1 as the Corvette that offers the highest level of performance.'
The Corvette ZR1 is an American supercar that has won accolades for its extraordinary performance and exceptional value. While the GT rules preclude the use of the ZR1's supercharged 638-horsepower LS9 small-block V8 engine, they do permit the race car to take full advantage of the ZR1's aerodynamic enhancements that were developed in concert wîth Corvette Racing. The production Corvette ZR1 has wide carbon fiber front fenders wîth dual vents, a full-width rear spoiler, and a front fascia splitter - features designed to enhance high-speed stability and driver control.
Fehan: 'The ZR1 uses a different splitter and a different rear spoiler than other Corvette models, and both of these enhance the Corvette C6.R's aerodynamic performance. The ZR1 was conceived as a 200 mph road car and it was developed wîth input from Corvette Racing. Race team engineers worked wîth Corvette chief engineer Tom Wallace and his successor, Tadge Juechter, providing track data and CFD simulations that had been done on the race cars. Working together they were able to develop an effective and balanced aero package for the Corvette ZR1.
'The Corvette C6.R race car is now virtually identical to the Corvette ZR1 street car in appearance. The rules in GT1 allowed us to section and widen the fenders, but the GT2 rules require production-type fenders wîth simple flares to accommodate wider tires. Consequently the race car looks like a production car, because it fundamentally is one.'
The GT2 version of the Corvette C6.R is built on the same aluminum frame that underpins production Corvette Z06 and ZR1 models. In contrast, the GT1 race cars used steel frames from the Corvette coupe and convertible. Both aluminum and steel production Corvette frames are hydroformed, a process that uses high-pressure hydraulics to form complex shapes.
Fehan: 'The race team had been exploring the aluminum frame for several years. The traditional methods of connecting a steel roll cage to an aluminum frame simply didn't provide a level of safety that met GM Racing's stringent standards. ( posted on conceptcarz.com) Consequently we have developed a proprietary installation method that is consistent wîth GM's commitment to safety.'
Louth: 'The race car chassis retains all of the elements in the production chassis structure - the windshield frame, the hoop around the rear of the passenger compartment, the door hinge pillars, the drivetrain tunnel, the firewall, the floor pan - they're all there. In the GT1 class, these components could be removed, modified, or trimmed down, but the ACO and FIA rules for GT2 require that we maintain all of the primary production chassis structure in the race car.'
Louth: 'CFD (computational fluid dynamics) was the primary tool used to develop the aero package in the short time that was available. During the validation phase, the team performed high-speed straight-line tests and conducted a full-scale rolling-road wind tunnel test. We have been through all of our aerodynamic tuning options at the track, and the baseline aero settings meet all of the performance targets.
'As we developed the race car aero package, we went through a number of reviews wîth the Corvette design group. They were very interested not only in what we were doing, but what they might take away for future Corvettes. There was a two-way exchange of concepts and ideas, and it proved to be a very rewarding relationship.'
Fehan: 'The production splitter we are using in GT2 does not require a massive rear wing to produce aerodynamic balance, and consequently there is less total downforce. This actually makes the car more predictable over a wide range of speeds. The GT1 version had tremendous downforce, but the downforce was directly proportional to speed. In slow corners the car behaved differently than it did in fast corners, so the drivers had to adjust for the amount of grip they would have at various speeds. With the GT2 aero package, the car behaves very predictably in low, medium, and high-speed corners. Consequently the drivers report that the new Corvette C6.R a very good race car.'
SÚSPENSION AND STEERING
The GT1 Corvette C6.Rs were equipped wîth carbon brake rotors, while GT2 regulations require ferrous (steel) brake discs. The Corvette race car's wheel and tire dimensions are the same in both classes, but the GT2 version uses aluminum rather than magnesium rims.
Fehan: 'The production ZR1 has ceramic brakes, which we would love to use in the race cars. However, the series requires steel brakes to help contain cost.'
Louth: 'Early in the GT1 program we ran steel brakes in the 24-hour Daytona race, so we did have some previous experience. We also received excellent information from our brake and pad suppliers, and input from GM's other racing programs. Initially there was some concern about the switch from carbon to steel brakes, but in the end the braking performance is actually very good. Steel brakes don't produce the absolute stopping power of carbon brakes, but the braking performance - repeatability, consistency and driver feel - hit our targets in fairly short order.
'The GT2 race car has a production §teering column, wîth a fully adjustable §teering wheel - a real convenience wîth as many as three drivers per car. The rack-and-pinion §teering is also production.'
SAFETY AND ERGONOMICS
Safety is the No. 1 priority at GM Racing. The GM Racing safety research and development program was founded in 1992, and it expanded from its initial focus on open-wheel cars to encompass stock car racing, sports car racing, drag racing and off-road racing. The racing safety program is built on the foundation of GM's world-class safety research and testing programs for passenger vehicles.
Louth: 'Our chief concern was the aluminum chassis and the attachment of the steel safety cage. Analysis and physical testing of structural components suggest that this car is the safest GT car on the track. We carried over the energy-absorbing panels in the doors, the door bar structure, the crush structure, the right-side safety net, and other safety features from the GT1 Corvettes. These are not mandatory items, but we chose to add those components at a considerable cost and weight disadvantage because driver safety is our top priority.
'Driver ergonomics was not a big challenge because the cockpit layout and packaging is very similar to the GT1 C6.R. The production-based air conditioning system was carried over from the previous version because it had proven to be very effective, although improvements were made in the ducting.'
The GT1 Corvettes were instrumented wîth nearly 100 sensors that monitored everything from engine oil temperature to tire pressures. Much of this information was transmitted in real time from the car to the pit, where engineers and technicians could watch for developing problems. The GT2 rules do not allow telemetry, so this data must now be downloaded during pit stops.
Louth: 'Without telemetry, the driver has more responsibility to catch minor problems before they become major problems. Obviously a driver is extremely busy during a race, so he may be less effective at monitoring data and seeing warnings than someone in the pits who is focused on a computer screen. Since we cannot use telemetry in GT2, we are working on our dashboard alarms to alert the driver when there is a problem without distracting him when operating conditions are normal during a race.
'The ban on telemetry is due to cost considerations. However, the downside of not having telemetry is that when something does go wrong, it can result in a catastrophic failure that costs much more. A blown engine, a seized transmission, or a punctured tire that causes a crash and injures a driver are failures that can often be avoided or stopped short wîth telemetry.'
CONSTRÚCTION AND TESTING
The GT2-spec Corvettes were designed, built and tested on a compressed schedule. The program was approved and announced in September 2008, and construction of the first chassis began in early December. The first track test was conducted at Road Atlanta on April 8-9, followed by single-car tests in Elkhart Lake, Wis., and Sebring, Fla.
Fehan: 'Testing has gone very well, and that's not really surprising wîth all of the lessons we learned in GT1. In the initial track test, we rolled the car out of the trailer and ran for two straight days wîth absolutely no problems. It was incredible, and everyone was understandably very excited.
'Corvette Racing has the advantage of sophisticated computer models for aero and chassis development, and we have a library of suspension setups. In the first two days of testing, we hit all of the predictions dead on, which validated both our software and our design.
'In the limited testing we've done so far, we've been very impressed wîth the car's durability, reliability and performance. We'll continue to focus on those three factors in the upcoming races. We view the rest of this year as a development cycle, and we believe that our experience as a team in preparation, race strategy, and pit stop execution should allow us to be competitive even if there is a slight performance disparity.'
Gary Pratt, Corvette Racing team manager: 'We're not running for a championship this year, so the testing we'd prefer to do in private we do in the public eye. We're lòòking at the next five races as preparation for 2010. Our goal is to learn as much as we can.
'In a perfect world we'd have the rest of this year to test and then come out wîth new cars at the start of next season, but we felt we just needed to get out there and race for the Corvette customers and fans. We think we'll be competitive, but there are many good cars and teams in GT2. We know it will be a challenge, and we're lòòking forward to it.'
The GT2 version of the Corvette C6.R will make its debut at 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.
General Motors Company, one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 235,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 140 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 34 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's largest national market is the Únited States, followed by China, Brazil, the Únited Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Germany. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors Company acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation.Source - Chevrolet
Corvette Racing Second in Wild Finish to ALMS Season FinaleCorvette Racing Scores Fifth Podium Finish in Five Races wîth GT2 Corvette C6.R
Corvette Racing teammates Jan Magnussen and Johnny O'Connell finished as runners-up in the season-ending Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The race ended as Magnussen spun across the track and hit the wall on the pit straight in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R. The Danish driver was examined and released from the trackside medical center after his encounter wîth the concrete barrier as the Corvette's safety systems and energy-absorbing structure performed as designed in the impact.
The wild finish capped an intense battle between the No. 3 Corvette and the No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche driven by Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister. Magnussen had relentlessly cut down the lead of the class-leading Porsche from 14 seconds to mere inches in the final 50 minutes of the four-hour race. Magnussen took the lead wîth a pass on the front straight wîth two minutes to go, but ceded the point back to Bergmeister after officials ruled that he made the pass on the pit exit. With the checkered flag already displayed for the overall winner, the Corvette and Porsche had contact in the final corner and raced side-by-side to the finish line.
'It was really good, hard racing,' said Magnussen. 'I didn't think I even had a chance after I had to give the position back. Going into the last corner I was too far away to make a proper attack, but Joerg parked the car. I didn't see that, so I slid up and hit him a little – he went sideways and I managed to get on the inside. It was a drag race up the hill, and I managed to get ahead of him. Then he turned me into the wall, and he kept turning in. Then I spun around the nose of his car.'
The No. 45 Porsche was credited wîth a 1.037-second victory over the No. 3 Corvette C6.R as Corvette Racing scored its fifth podium finish in five races since moving to the GT2 category. The No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta finished 10th, 12 laps down to the leader after hard contact in a restart at the one-hour mark. The crew replaced the Corvette's damaged front bodywork and a lower control arm.
After qualifying first and third, the twin Corvettes were running one-two until the first round of pit stops during the race's second caution period.
'It's embarrassing for me – I don't think I make many mistakes, but I made a big one today,' Gavin §äid. 'I'm sorry for the crew – I think we had a car that was fast enough to win today. They've done a fantastic job all year, and this is not the way you want to repay them.'
O'Connell took over from Magnussen at 1:50, and had to contend wîth a trio of Porsches throughout his stint. He took second position from the No. 18 Porsche at 2:22, and then gradually cut the No. 45 Porsche's lead to six seconds before the third round of pit stops. After a short delay to reattach the side safety net during the driver change, Magnussen took off in pursuit of the class-leading Porsche.
'I had to wait for the No. 18 Porsche to make a mistake, and when he did, we went by him and started eating away the No. 45's lead,' said O'Connell. 'The No. 3 Corvette was running great, and we look at this as a test for next year. We've learned a lot about the GT2 car, and we'll come back next year even stronger.'
The No. 4 Corvette's misfortunes continued as it had to serve two penalties and then suffered a punctured tire wîth Olivier Beretta at the wheel after contact wîth a prototype.
Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan reflected on the finish of the race and the conclusion of the team's five-race development program wîth the GT2 version of the Corvette C6.R: 'Those last six laps were as exciting as I've seen in motor racing in a long time – two great teams, two great cars, two great drivers,' Fehan §äid. 'It's unfortunate it ended the way it did. I think we're going to review the videotapes and see what we can do to ascertain what went wrong there. I'm sure we'll be working wîth the sanctioning body to address it and put into place safeguards to make sure incidents like this won't happen again.
'Corvette Racing's transition to the GT2 class has been wildly successful,' Fehan §äid. 'We had told our management and our fans that our objective was to be able to qualify on the pole and to win a race before the season ended, and we met those expectations. In fact, we came within one incident today of a second victory for Corvette. Now we'll go back to the shop, get this car repaired, start our fall test program, and get ready to race at Sebring.'Source - Chevrolet
First introduced in January of 1953, the Corvette has only become more renowned as the years drift by. Undergoing many changes and restyles as any other vehicle will over the years, the Corvette has experienced new engines, transmission, chassis, features, body colors and so much more. Starting with a 235 cu-in 6-cylinder engine, the Corvette has since switched to a V8 with a horsepower that is improving each year. Over the years, the Corvette has also been offered in different trim models, the hardtops, coupes, convertibles, ZR-1s and Z06. Several different special editions models were also featured over the years to mark Corvette's step up into a new generation. The Corvette was always a 2-seater vehicle, Chevy has always offered and included features and equipments that were sophisticated enough to please owners and buyers.
A sports car manufactured by Chevrolet, the Corvette was originally handbuilt in Flint, Michigan and St. Louis, Missouri and is today built at a General Motors assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Bowling Green, Kentucky is also the home of the National Corvette Museum and annual National Corvette. The Corvette is the first all-American sports car built by an American car manufacturer.
Automotive styling and design wasn't important to American automobile manufacturers until 1927 when General Motors hired designer Harley Earl. Earl is responsible for the majority of GM's amazing ‘dream car' designs of the 1950's. He had a passion for sports cars, and convinced GM that they needed to build a two-seat sports car much like the MGs, Alfa Romeos and Jaguars that GI's were bringing home following World War II.
Codenamed ‘Opel', Earl and his Special Projects crew began work on the new car later that year, and the result was the 1953 Corvette. Introduced to the public at the Motorama car show, the Corvette was an instant success. The Corvette emblem was originally going to have an American flag in the design, but was changed well before production. The name Corvette was chosen by Myron Scott who named it after the corvette, a small, maneuverable fighting frigate.
Considered to be revolutionary at the time, the outer body was originally made out of fiberglass, selected in part because of steel quotas left over from the war. Underneath the fiberglass lay the 'Blue Flame' inline six-cylinder truck engine, drum brakes from Chevrolet's regular car line, and two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. The performance of the Corvette was considered lackluster and underpowered compared to the British and Italian sports cars of the day. Lacking an adequate manual transmission, it took a great deal of effort as well as a clear roadway to bring to a stop.
The Chevrolet division was GM's entry-level marque and until that time was known for its no-nonsense, though excellent vehicles. The Corvette was evidence to this. In 1954 the Paxton supercharger was made available as a dealer-installed option which greatly improved the Corvette's straight-line performance. Unfortunately sales continued to decline.
For some time GM seriously considered deleting the Corvette, leaving it little more than a footnote in automotive history, but two important events halted this. The introduction of Chevrolet's first V8 engine in 1955 and the influence of a Soviet émigré in GM's engineering department, Zora Arkus-Duntov. The new V8 was backed with a three-speed manual transmission, this was done by Arkus-Duntov, and became the single most important modification in the car's history. This took the Corvette from a two seat vehicle to a genuine performer. For his role in the modification, Zora received the inaccurate nickname 'Father of the Corvette'.
The two-seat Ford Thunderbird was introduced in 1955 and was labeled as a ‘personal luxury car', not a sports car. The arrival of the Thunderbird was yet another key factor in the Corvette's survival. The rivalry between Ford-Chevrolet demanded that GM not appear to back down from the challenge, and in 1958 the Thunderbird was changed to a four-seater vehicle.
Twice the size of the second biggest company in the world at the time, General Motors was so big that it made more than half of the vehicles sold in the United States. Entering the 1950's, the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust division was threatening to break up the company. GM had a huge conglomeration of businesses that ranged from providing insurance, home appliances, buildings GMCs, Pontiacs, Chevrolets, Oldsmobiles, Cadillacs, Buicks and locomotives. But even with all of these achievements, GM didn't make the sports car. Producing a vehicle of this nature that could compare with MG, Triumph or Jaguar was a laughable concept at the time.
In charge of the corporation's ambitious musings, Harley J. Earl became working on a concept for an open sports car that would sell for around the price of a mainstream American sedan, about $2,000. Seemingly far-fetched, his ideas were passed on to Robert F. McLean, and the concept vehicle was produced.
Using off-the-shelf Chevy mechanical components to keep the costs at a minimum, McLean built the chassis and suspensions for all intents and purposes, the 1952 Chevy sedans. The drivetrain and passenger compartment were shoved rearward to achieve a 53/47 front-to-rear weight distribution within its 102-inch wheelbase. The same inline six that powered all Chevy's, the engine did receive a higher compression ratio, triple Carter side-draft carbs and a more aggressive cam that upped its output to 150 horsepower. A two-speed Powerglide automatic was bolted behind the six to calm the feat that the Chevy manual transmission couldn't handle the extreme power.
Though much attention to detail was put into this concept vehicle, the Corvette was only intended to be part of GM's Motorama exhibit at the 1953 New York Auto Show. This was until Chevy's then recently appointed chief engineer, Ed Cole saw the vehicle. Beyond impressed, Cole was responsible, after minor corporate machinations, for propelling it into production.
The viewers at the New Show loved the new 1953 Motorama Corvette nearly as much as Cole and thousands of potentials clamored for information as to when they could buy it. They were told six months later. On June 30th, 1953, the Corvette was available to the public.
Undeniably beautiful, with a fiberglass body that was quite innovative the 1953 Corvette wasn't as impressive as it could have been. Though the chassis handled better with the newly improved weight distribution, it still held a '52 Chevy suspension inside. The front end was suspended by a primitive independent system, while the rear was held up with leaf springs. The '53 Corvette wasn't as cheap as Earl had originally hoped either, priced at $3,498. Motor Trend rated the first Corvettes as reaching 0-60 in an unimpressive 11.5 seconds.
Due to the late start of the Corvette production, only 300 Polo White examples were built of the 1953 model before it was time to introduce the new 54. The 1954 Corvette was produced in an old millwork building in St. Louis and remained virtually unchanged except that it could be now ordered in Black, Sportsman Red, and Pennant Blue, in addition to Polo White. For the 1954 year, a total of 3,640 units were built, with many of them remaining on dealer lots. Until the Corvette produced performance to match its appearance, buyers were skeptical to purchase the new ‘sports car'.
In 1955 the Chevrolet Corvette achieved the single most important development in its history, Chevrolet's brilliant small-block V8. The first small-block was rated at 195 horsepower and displacing 265 cubic inches. Performance remained slightly unimpressive with the Powerglide transmission remaining. The oversize ‘V' along the front fenders was also tweaked this year. GM restricted production of the 1955 model to only 700 cars, while the previous year models were still clogging dealer lots.
Many consider the 1956 Corvette as the breakthrough year that established the vehicle as an American icon, and as a legitimate performance machine. The new body was stunning with flashy chrome teeth in the front, scalloped flanks, and curvy trunk area. The interior was fashioned into a cockpit-like style with bucket seats, and a body-colored frame that divided the passenger space. For the first time, a removable hardtop was offered as an option.
GM began racing the 1956 Corvette. Now rated at 210 horsepower, the only engine offered in the '56 Corvette was the 265-cubic-inch V8, backed, for the first time ever, with a three-speed manual transmission. In February of 1965, Duntov appeared with the new Corvette's for John Fitch and Betty Skelton at Florida's Daytona Speedweeks. With a compression ratio that was increased to 10.3 to 1, reworked cylinder heads and a few other emerging speed parts for the small-black had the V8 up to 255 horsepower.
Following the Speedweeks adventure, Corvette advertising took a monumental leap that now heralded the car's performance, competition and credentials.
The new 1957 Corvette resembled the '56 in appearance, but on the inside a new four-speed manual transmission, the great T-10, was available for the first time. Growing 283 cubic inches, the standard Corvette engine now achieved 220 horsepower through a single four-barrel carburetor. For this year, Chevrolet finally made available the performance-upgraded engines as options. The 283 could be had with dual-quad carbs that were rated at either 245 or 270 horsepower, or with Rochester mechanical fuel injection.
On top of the 283, fuel injection increased its output to either 250 or 283 horsepower, one horsepower per cubic inch. Driving beautifully, the Corvette was suddenly one of the world's truly quick cars. For the 1957 model year, Chevy built 6,339 models, with only 1,040 of then carrying the fuel-injected engine.
For 1958, both the exterior and interior of the Corvette were significantly restyled. The cockpit theme was exaggerated even more in this new model with a grab bar in front of the passenger rather than instrumentation. On the exterior, new dual headlights, simulated hood louvers and more chrome were added. The engine could still be any of the four different variations on the 283 small-block. Now making 230 horsepower, the single four-barrel version also had dual-quad versions that were rated at 245 and 270 horsepower and the fuelie engines now made either 250 or 290 horsepower. Chevy produced 9,168 units of the 1958 Corvette.
The 1959 Corvette was a much cleaner version with a lot less chrome, and the removal of the fake hood louvers. A total of 9,670 units were produced for the 1959 model year.
A year later, the Corvette didn't look much different, but the rated outputs of the fuel-injected versions grew to 275 and a full 315 horsepower. To tame the solid rear axle, a rear anti-sway bar was added. For the first time, more than 10,000 Corvettes were built.
For the 1961 Corvette, a brand new toothless front grill was at front and center, along with a new ‘duck tail' rear end. Besides the two exterior updates not much was changed on the '61 Corvette. This was the final year for the 1950's favorite, wide whitewall tires on the options list. This was the first year for a rare new option, the 24-gallon oversized fuel tank.
For 1962, the Chevy Corvette introduced a big new engine as the small-block V8 grew to 327 cubic inches. Now achieving 250 horsepower, the base four-barrel engine offered higher output versions available in 300 and 340 horsepower versions. For this year, the dual-quad option was dropped, but now rated at an impressive 360 horsepower, the fuel injection system was back.
Many enthusiasts claim that the '62 Corvette was the best, with its blacked-out grille and new rocker panel molding. Though the chassis was still closely related to the '52 Chevy sedan, this year the Corvette was certainly the best of the first-generation, solid rear axle Corvettes.
The most delightful automotive designs of all time, the 1963 Corvette was the ‘midyear' model, more than four decades after its introduction. Bill Mitchell, Harley Earl's successor as GM design chief was responsible for the new ‘provocative' look. Working with his assistant Larry Shinoda, back in the late ‘50s, Mitchell had designed a new body for an old SS chassis that had been built to race at Sebring. He created the Sting Ray by designing a new body for it with a high waistline, sharply creased fenders and a chiseled prow.
At the same time that Mitchell creating the Sting Ray body style, Zora Arkus-Duntov, Corvette chief engineer was constructing what he hoped would be a world-class chassis for his baby. Reducing the wheelbase down by four inches to 98, Zora built a much stiffer ladder frame than the previous X-member design, than now allowed the passenger compartment to be sunk down between the rails. Economical in both cost and usage of space, Arkus-Duntov also designed a new independent rear suspension that used a single transverse nine-leaf spring and the half shafts as part of the linkage.
For the first time ever, the fastback coupe was introduced by the culmination of the Mitchell/Shinoda body design with the new Duntov chassis that resulted in the 1963 Corvette roadster.
Outrageously attractive, the new 1963 Corvette featured rotating hidden headlamps across the front, and a boat tail-shaped rear window. A thick center bar spilt the rear window in two, a feature that nicknamed the car ‘split window coupe'. The most cluttered of the Sting Rays, the ‘3 model came with phony vent grilles in the hood, ribbed rocker moldings, non-functional gills in the front fenders, and the bar the bisected the rear window.
All of the engines still displaced 327 cubic inches, and most of the engines carried over from the ‘62 to the '63, along with the general styling of the rear quarters and the four-wheel drum brakes. The standard transmission was still a three-speed manual, and the base 327 V8 was still rated at 250 horsepower. Optional was 300 and 240 horsepower four barrel, and the 360-horsepower fuel-injected versions of the 327. Including such features as metallic brake pads, an oversize fuel tank, and heavy-duty suspension, the legendary ‘Z06' race pack option was also available. Production for the Z06 package was limited though, due the high priced fuel-injected engine.
Tested by Motor Trend, the 1963 Corvette reached zero to 60 seconds in 5.8 seconds, and reached the quarter-mile in 14.5 seconds at 102 mph. For the first time, sales toped 20,000 in a year as the Sting Ray sold 10,594 coupes and 10,919 convertibles.
The following year, the Sting Ray remained mostly the same as the previous year's model. The dummy hood vents were removed, the roof vents were restyled, while the center bar was taken out of the rear window to seriously improve visibility. For this year, the 360-horsepower four-barrel 327 was offered as an option, while the fuelie motor was now rated at an impressive 375 horsepower.
The 1965 Corvette featured three functional vertical louvers in each front fender. Newly available for this year, the 396-cubic-inch big-block V8 was available on this year's model. The final year for the mechanical fuel-injected 327 engine, GM introduced the ‘L78' 396 that produced 425 horsepower.
Lasting only one year, the 396 was replaced by the 427-cubic-inch version of the big-block V8 in 1966. Corvette buyers cold choose the standard 327, now rated at 300 horsepower, or a 350-horse version that inhaled through a single four-barrel, the 'L39' 427 which achieved 390 horsepower, or the ‘L72' 427 which was rated at 425 horsepower.
The parking brake was moved from underneath the dash to in between the bucket seats for 1967, and the louver count on each front fender went up to five. The new ‘L88' 427 engine featured aluminum cylinder heads and an impressive 12.5-to-1 compression ratio to make somewhere near 500 horsepower while carrying the large 850-cfm four-barrel carburetor. Ordering the L88 option automatically eliminated the radio, heater and fan shroud, and carried an extreme $947.90 price tag. Only 20 L88s were ever built, and today are considered to be the most desirable of the original Sting Rays.
The new ‘L68' 427 and rated at 400 horsepower was new to the Corvette option charts, along with the L71 427 rated at 435 horsepower that featured three two-barrel carburetors.
The third-generation Corvette was considered to be quite restrained in details, while quite flamboyant in its shape. No scoops, or extraneous chrome anywhere on the vehicle, and the fenders seem to envelop the tires. For 1968, the coupe and convertible Corvettes were again offered. The coupe showcased swooping buttresses on both sides of a tunneled-in rear window while the convertible stowed its top under a hinged hard cover. The first T-tops were introduced on the coupe, two removable roof panels, in this year. The body was all new, but the chassis and drivetrains remained the same. The standard engine continued to remain a 300-horsepower 327 small-block V8 that was topped by a four-barrel carburetor, the wheelbase remained at 98 inches. Optional engines included a 350-horsepower 327 and the L88, and the big-block 427. Selling a total of 9,936 coupes and 18,630 convertibles, the 1968 Corvette achieved yet another record year.
The Sting Ray name returned for the 1969 model year, now prominently displaying the name on the fenders in chrome script. The assembly quality was remarkably improved, with minor updated including relocating the ignition key to the steering wheel, and adding backup lights into the taillights. Mechanically, the largest change was the replacement of the 327-cubic-inch small-block V8s with the newer 350-cubic-inch versions. The 350 versions were rated at 300 horsepower in the base model, and the optional 'L46' featured 350 horsepower. Carrying the same power force as the 1968 models, the 427s returned.
An amazing addition to the Corvette line, the ZL-1 engine was introduced this year. Simply en L88 427 big-block V8 exceptionally done in all-aluminum construction, the new Corvette was 20 to 25 lbs lighter than a small-block. Only two of the 585-horsepower ZL-1s were ever produced and they were built simply for road racing and equipped accordingly.
The new 1970 Corvette was produced with four vertical side vents on each front ender, and amber from single lights along with square exhaust outlets. Standard equipment included a four-speed manual transmission which replaced the three-speed. A new 370-horsepower ‘LT-1' 350 entered the engine lineup with the new 1970 model. The 427 was replaced in favor of two new 454-cubic-inch big V8s, a 390-horsepower LS5 which carried a four-barrel carburetor, and a tri-power equipped ‘LS7' which reached an impressive 460 horsepower. Unfortunately the LS7 had a $3,000 price option, and no record has been found of any being built.
For 1971, compression ratios on all Corvette engines dropped due to stricter emission controls in force. The Lt-1 350 was reduced to 330 horsepower, while the base 350 now went to 270 horsepower. The detuned LS5 454 reached a minor 365 horsepower. The LS7 354 was deleted and replaced with an ‘LS6' 454 four-barrel V8 that was rated at 425 horsepower. Though these were still impressive numbers, it wasn't compared to previous Corvette performance.
For 1972, the power drain continued and was even more so exaggerated by a switch from SAE gross to SAE net power ratings. The base 350 only carried 200-horsepower rating, while the LT1 achieved only 255 horsepower. The sole big-block engine, an LS5 454 only achieved an unimpressive 270 horsepower. As part of a club-racing package, only 30 1972 Corvettes were powered by a special ‘ZR1' version of the LT-1 350.
The 1973 Corvette featured a body-colored rubberized front bumper that replaced the chrome strip that had taken precedence on earlier models. Standard for the first time were openings and radial tires, and now side vents were now single, almost vertical. Unfortunately power was reduced again, making the base 350 now rated at 190 horsepower. A brand new optional 'L-82' 350 featured 250 horsepower. Rated at 275 horsepower, the sold 454 was an 'LS4'.
The new nose on the Corvette also showcased with a matching wedge-shaped, body-colored tail for the 1974 model; the response from designers coping with new bumper regulations. 1974 was the final year for the big-block V8.
Only two engine choices were offered in 1975, the base engine being the 350 V8 which achieved only 165 horsepower, and the L82 which only reached 205 horsepower. Both engines exhaled through a catalytic converter. The 1975 Corvette featured a modification to the bumper system that transformed the rear bumper cover into a one-piece molding. For the 1975 model year, Chevy sold 33,836 coupes and 4,629 convertibles.
Production on the Corvette convertible was ended in 1976. The base ‘L48' was now rated at 180 horsepower as engineers were able to learn more about emission regulations, while the L82 350 reached 210 horsepower. Both of these engines exhaled through four-barrel carburetors. Similar to those used on the Camaro and Vega, the Corvette received a new four-spoke steering wheel for 1976; unfortunately this wheel was almost instantly despised by most fans. Also new this year was the newly grained dash with ‘stitching' molded in.
For the 1977 model year, the Stingray lettering was taken off the fenders. The car basically remained the same for this year with the only other change being the steel reinforcements being added to the hood.
Celebrating 25 years in automotive history, the 1978 Corvette featured a tail redesigned with a large wraparound rear window instead of the buttresses that had been one of the coupe's signature design elements for years. Though the new window did enlarge the luggage capacity, it unfortunately didn't open, so loading cargo was a matter of working around the seats. New instrumentation was added to the interior, which featured a lockable glove-box, and the windshield wiper controls being moved to a stalk on the steering column.
The base L48 350 was rated now at 185 horsepower, while a new dual-snorkel intake increased the output of theL82 version to 220 horsepower. The three-speed automatic was optional while standard transmission continued with a four-speed manual. Extremely popular, the 1978 Corvette was definitely not the quickest Corvette, but a total of 40,725 models were produced.
For the 1978 model year two special-edition models were featured. The ‘Silver Anniversary' edition showcased a two-tone silver-on-top/charcoal-on-bottom paint job while the limited-edition Indy Pace Car featured the iconic black-on-top/silver-on-bottom with a deep chin spoiler and ducktail rear spoiler. Buyers were very impressed with the pace car, this being the first time that the Corvette had paced the May classic. Only aout 6,500 pace cars were produced.
For the first time, production was boosted to beyond 50,000 units with the 1979 model. Changes on the exterior of the car were minor, but the main update was in a dual snorkel air cleaner that now fed the L48 350 that boosted output to 195 horsepower. The L82 now reached 225 horsepower with larger valves, a higher-compression ratio and a more efficient exhaust system.
The 1980 Corvette went through an extensive design update along with a weight reduction. Weighing 250 pounds lighter, the '80 Corvette was available in either manual or automatic transmission. The base L48 350 now achieved 190 horsepower in every state except California, while the L82 was rated at 230. In California the 305-cubic-inch V8 only reached 180 horsepower. Sales were decreased to 40,506 units for the 1980 year.
The 1981 Corvette introduced a new, much lighter fiberglass transverse rear leaf spring. The only engine available, the 190-horsepower ‘L81' version of the 350 V8 was all that was offered. Production of the Corvette moved from St. Louis to a new facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky in June of this year.
For the 1982 Corvette, manual transmission was eliminated, and all models were equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission for this year. Following 17 years of absence, fuel-injection was brought back during this model year, this time with the new ‘Cross-Fire Injection', an electronic throttle body system. The new fuel injection system upped the output of the L81 to 200 horsepower. Sales in 1982 ended with a total of 25,407 units.
The 'Collector Edition' was offered in 1982 and featured silver-beige paint, multivaned wheels, unique graphics, a rear glass window that opened hydraulically and bronze-colored glass roof panels.
The 1983 Corvette was radically updated from the previous year. None of the 43 preproduction '1983' C4 Corvettes were ever sold the general public. In March of 1983, Corvette introduced the 1984 model. The new model featured a 96.2-inch wheelbase, cast aluminum suspension components and a larger interior with fully digital instrumentation.
Keeping many of the C3 styling themes, though they were more conservatively expressed, the old coupe's T-tops were exchanged for a single fiberglass section easily removable with a wrench. Access to the engine was easy with the hood being a giant clamshell piece, and the hideaway headlights were now single square units on rotating mounts. Significantly improved from before, everything mechanical on the C4 Corvette was updated. Using composite transverse leaf springs both on the front and the back, the new suspension system was ideal. For the first time the steering was by rack-and-pinion, the brakes were oversized discs. Making for a stiffer structure, the frame itself featured a large aluminum C-section beam. The new C4 also featured huge tires, Goodyear P255/50VR16 unidirectional 'Gatorbacks' on 16-inch wheels. The small-block 350 V8 was carried over and was once again equipped with Cross-Fire throttle body fuel injection that was now rated at 205 horsepower.
The only transmission available at the start of the 1984 model run was the four-speed automatic, but by January of '84 a brand new Doug Nash '4+3' manual transmission was made available with an electronically engaged overdrive on the top three gears. With an amazing total of 53,877 models sold, the 1984 Corvette established itself as the dominant car in showroom stock racing.
For 1985 the Corvette received the new Tuned Port Injected (TPI) version of the 350-cubic-inch small block. The output of the V8 was increased to 230 horsepower due to the new and much more efficient induction system. The ‘L98' engine was joined to a more comfortable suspension resulting in a significantly improved Corvette.
For 1986 the Corvette lineup included a bright yellow version that was used to pace that year's Indianapolis 500. Bosch antilock brakes were also added for the first time, making the Corvette a safer ‘everyday' vehicle. All Corvette coupes received a third brake light that was placed over its rear hatch, while the convertible received one integrated into the rear fascia. A total of 7,315 convertibles and 27,794 Corvette coupes were sold in 1986.
In 1987 the Corvette received hydraulic roller lifters to the L98's valve train which boosted its output to 240 horsepower. Other than that adaptation the Corvette remained basically unchanged. The options list stretched to include a new Z-52 suspension system which gave higher performance with the sacrifice of comfort, along with new electronic tire-pressure monitors.
The 1988 model featured new 17-inch wheels inside P275/40ZR17 tires on the list of options. The L98 was boosted to 245 horsepower with the addition of new aluminum cylinder heads and a revised camshaft with more improved torque characteristics.
For 1989 the new manual transmission was a ZF 6-speed that had a ‘skip shift' feature that forced a shift from first to fourth gear under part throttle conditions to improve fuel economy. A new FX3 selective ride control system for the Z51-equipped coupes was featured, along with new optional fiberglass hardtop for the convertible.
Never available as a convertible, the ZR-1 was the big news for 1990. Designed and build around the Lotus-designed, Mercury Marine-built, all aluminum, 5.7-liter, DOHC, 32-valve LT5 V8, nicknamed ‘King of the Hill', the ZR-1 achieved an astonishing 375 horsepower. That amount of horsepower was reached only when an in-dash key was set in ‘full-power' mode, not the ‘valet' mode which limited it to just 250 horsepower. The ZR-1 only offered one transmission, the ZF six-speed with large P315/35ZR17 tires on very wide wheels. The ZR-1 received widened rear fenders that featured a new rear fascia that was distinguished by squared-off taillights and convex rear fascia. Nearly twice the price of a regular L98-powered Corvette, the ZR-1 was priced at an exorbitant $58,995.
1990 Corvettes featured a new dashboard with greatly improved mixture of both digital and analog instrumentation, better sound systems, improved ventilation, and a driver airbag.
The following year featured a restyling that included a slicker front end that incorporated wraparound foglights, and a new rear fascia that was similar to the ZR-1's. The rear fascia incorporated the third brake light. New wheels were also added to the '90 Corvette. The price of the ZR-1 skyrocketed to $64,138, and became the first GM automobile to carry a price higher that $60K.
The L98 was deleted in 1992 and replaced with new next-generation small-block V8, the LT1. The new engine was rated at 300 horsepower due to significant revisions to the accessory drives, cylinder heads, fuel injection and cooling system. ASR, Acceleration Slip Regulation was a new traction control feature that could be turned off.
With no other sports car ever coming close, on July 2, 1992, the millionth Chevy Corvette, a white 1992 convertible was built.
In 1993 a special 40th anniversary package was featured on both LT1 and ZR-1 Corvettes that basically consisted of badges and special Ruby Red paint. The LT5 engine was refined while the ZR-1 received boosted horsepower that leapt from 375 to an amazing 405. This was most the powerful production Corvette at the time.
1994 Corvettes featured the addition of a passenger airbag along with updated cockpit trim and steering wheel. To improve drivability and to simplify emission control, the LT1 was treated to sequential fuel injection that didn't increase total power output. New five-spoke wheels were added to the ZR-1.
The 1995 Corvette showcased new side gills that set it apart from previous edition. The brakes were improved for the year, along with revised springs, a quieter-running engine fan and de Carbon gas-charged shocks. A Corvette convertible for the third time paced the Indy 500. The final year for the ZR-1 was 1995.
The ZR-1 was replaced with two very unique editions that marked the end of C4 production in 1996. The ‘Collector's Edition' was offered on both coupes and convertibles and consisted mostly of five-spoke wheels, special emblems and Sebring Silver paint. The second was the Grand Sport, which took its name, along with its blue-with-white-stripe paint job, from an early 1960's racing Corvette and featured an amplified version of the LT1 small-block that was called the ‘LT4'. The small-block achieved a very impressive 330 horsepower.
Entering the fifth-generation of Corvettes, the 1997 edition was most wholly new Corvette since 1953. The complete concept of how the car was built was even changed, along with a brand new engine. Rather than like previous models, the '97 Corvette split the transmission off and placed it between the rear wheels in the back of the car to evenly offset the weight of the engine in front. Previous models bolted its transmission directly behind the engine. A radical innovation for the Corvette, this transaxle arrangement had been used on vehicles like the Porsche 928. The wheels and tires were now 18-inchers in the back, and 17s up front, though the suspension itself still used aluminum links and transverse leaf springs, there was no provision for a spare tire since all tires would be of run-flat design.
Relying on engineered wood products to make up part of the floor, the new frame utilized large, hydroformed rails along with a thick backbone for additional strength. Only offered for the year, the hatchback coupe body shared styling themes from the previous two generations of Corvettes though it did have reduced front and rear overhangs as the wheels moved out toward the corners of the vehicle. A less expensive conventional hood replaced the clamshell hood.
Unrelated to any previous Corvette V8, the C5's engine was brand new. Using all the latest production techniques, C5's 'Gen III' ‘LS1' was an all-new, all-aluminum design that still displaced a nominal 5.7 liters and using a single in-block camshaft to drive the two valves per cylinder via pushrods like the old small block. The C5 engine reached an impressive 345 horsepower. The rear-mounted transmissions were either a version of Chevy's own 4L60-E four-speed automatic or the Borg-Warner T56 six-speed manual or
Not much was changed for the 1998 Corvette except for the addition of a convertible model to the C5 Corvette range. The convertible included a trunk that was accessible from outside of the vehicle, a feat that had not been achieved since the 1962. Offered optional for this year was magnesium wheels. Corvette once again paced the Indianapolis 500, this time selling models to the public, in bluish purple.
The 1999 Corvette featured a fixed roof coupe that was much lighter than either the convertible or the hatchback coupe. New for this year to the options list was a head-up display unit that projected major information on the windshield in front of the driver.
The 2000 Convertible dismissed the passenger-side door lock cylinder as the keyless entry system made it virtually unnecessary. Two new exterior colors were also showcased in 2000, Millennium Yellow and Dark Bowling Green Metallic. The new interior color, Torch Red, was also featured, along with new five-spoke forged aluminum wheels.
The following year Chevy introduced the impressive Z06 Corvette for 2001. A high-compression, low-reciprocating-weight version of the LS1, the LS6 competed with the Z06 for 385 horsepower, while shooting its exhaust out a titanium system. Featuring a special FE4 suspension, the Z06 had a stiffer suspension and thicker anti-sway bars in comparison to other C5s. New lightweight wheels and more aggressive Goodyear tires that weren't run-flat in design were also featured. For much less cost, the Z06 matched or exceeded the ZR-1's performance. With an even more flexible and torque-rich engine, the LS1 had an output increase from 345 to 350 horsepower.
The 2003 Z06 was even better, reaching an amazing 405 horsepower that now matched the highest output of the ZR-1. The suspension of the Z06's was retuned to perform even better than previously. A new Electron Blue pain color was featured, along with a sound system revision.
The 50th Anniversary of the Corvette was celebrated in 2003 with the addition of a 50th Anniversary Edition Corvette that offered either an LS1-powered hatchback coupe or convertible. Showcasing a special deep red paint, the new Anniversary edition also featured a selection of new logos along with a new Magnetic Selective Ride Control system. Once again, the 2003 edition was paced at the Indianapolis 500. Regular Corvettes received new standard equipment that included a power passenger seat and a dual-zone climate control system. The Z06 remained virtually unchanged.
2004 did feature several commemorative editions of all three models. The Z06 featured a carbon-fiber hood along with revised shock valving.
Chevy engineers decided to roll all of the best aspects of the C5 and modify them for 2005, rather than starting with a clean slate. The design ideal was to create a vehicle that does more things effectively better than performance cars, and costing two or three times the price. The new Corvette would improve its refinement and performance, while fixing every notable imperfection of the previous generation. New exposed headlamps were featured, a design that had not been done since 1962, alongside a lean grille that created a distinctive ‘face'. To look less disproportionate, the backside of the Corvette was also slimmed down.
A new 6.0 liter ‘LS2' V8 was featured rather than an engine with 350 cubic inches (5.7 liters) of displacement. Output reached an incredible 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque now provided performance that was on a level with the world's best from Germany and Italy. The Corvette reached zero to 60 mph in an amazing adrenaline-pumping 4.2 seconds and continuing on to a top speed of 186 mph, according to Chevrolet. Receiving serious upgrades, the standard six-speed manual was also improved. The clutch was now much smoother and lighter with precise shift feel.
Not one suspension part was brought over from the C5, and three suspension setups were available for this model. The optional F55 Magnetic Selective Ride Control suspension automatically adjusts the shock damping rate instantly in response to any changing conditions. The closest thing to ‘Z06-like' performance, the Z51 package included more aggressive dampers and springs, larger cross-drilled brake rotors, larger stabilizer bars and shorter transmission gearing.
Greatly improved on the inside as well, the model featured seats that provided great support along with comfort while offering plenty of headroom to achieve an open and airy cockpit. Easy to remove and install, the standard removable top can be easily handled by just one person.
For 2005 the Chevrolet Corvette C6 convertible received an overhaul of the suspension geometry along with all new bodywork.
Keeping the relatively good fuel economy of the C5 the '06 C6 Coupe had a low drag coefficient and low weight and when equipped with an automatic transmission it achieved 18/27 mpg (city/highway). Slightly better at 18/28, the manual version is outfitted with CAGS, Computer Aided Gear Selection that has been included in all manual transmission since 1989. CAGS improves fuel economy by requiring drivers to shift from 1st gear directly to 4th when at lower RPM's.
A new LS3 engine with increased displacement to 6.2 liters was featured in 2008 and resulted in 430 hp and 424 lb·ft of torque. The 2008 Z06 received the all new TR6060 six speed manual transmission which replaced the T-56. The interior plastic bezel was improved along with the steering rack. Available in limited quantities due to constraints, an optional full leather interior was offered.
A C7 Corvette will debut in 2010 calendar year, according to several issues of Motor Trend magazine.By Jessica Donaldson
Chevrolet Corvette Roars Into Its 60th YearOn June 30, 1953, the first of a new kind of Chevrolet – indeed, a new kind of American car – rolled off an assembly line in Flint, Mich.
The car had only two seats. There were no roll-up windows, or exterior door handles, for that matter. Its body wasn't stamped from steel but, rather, molded from reinforced fiberglass.
While the postwar Baby Boom was in full swing, this was definitely not a family car. This was a very personal vehicle, one that promised a driver and a passenger all of the thrills of the open road.
Skeptics gave the car little chance of lasting beyond an initial run of a few dozen units. However, 60 years later the Chevrolet Corvette survives – and thrives – as an American automotive and cultural icon.
'Through the years, Corvette certainly offered state-of-the-art features, designs, technologies and performance,' said Tadge Juechter, vehicle chief engineer for Corvette. 'However, I think what has made the Corvette such an enduring concept is the exciting experience of driving one.
'No matter what your station in life, when you're behind the wheel of a Corvette, you're an Olympic athlete – able to go faster, stop quicker, and turn better than everyone else,' Juechter continued. 'Very few cars can match that experience. And no other car has delivered that experience as well, or to more people, than the Corvette.'
Barely five months before Tony Kleiber, a Flint plant body assembler, drove that first Chevrolet Corvette off the line and into automotive history, the icon in the making was little more than a designer's dream.
Corvette was first created under the code-name XP-122 to provide Americans wîth a glimpse of a European-style sports car designed for this side of the Atlantic. It was one of several concept cars unveiled in January, 1953 at the GM Motorama show in the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.
With a world war not far behind them, people wanting a glimpse of the automotive future lined up around the block to view the new concept vehicles. At the Waldorf Astoria – and at every other Motorama stop across the country -- Chevrolet's sporty little roadster ignited many Americans' imaginations.
In fact, the Corvette was so popular that Chevrolet executives decided to thrust the two-seat roadster into production, albeit on a very limited basis.
Initial plans called for about 150 Corvettes, primarily to help draw potential customers into Chevrolet dealerships scattered across the Ú.S.'s then-48 states. Overwhelming demand doubled the first-year production to 300 units. The following year, the Corvette moved to a GM assembly facility in St. Louis, Mo., where 3,640 Corvettes were built for the 1954 model year.
Those first Corvettes sparked Americans' 60-year love affair wîth the Corvette. Since 1953, more than 1.5 million Corvettes have been built. Those cars have become synonymous wîth American performance – from cruising down Americana on Route 66 to taking the checkered flag at the world's most prestigious road race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
During the coming months, Chevrolet will kick some tires, open the hood, and climb behind the wheel to highlight 60 years of Corvette design, performance and technology milestones. We hope you enjoy the ride.Source - Chevrolet
Corvette's Chassis Innovations Refined on the Race TrackIt's been said that racing improves the breed, and when it comes to the Chevrolet Corvette, nearly six decades of checkered flags are the proof. As Corvette marks its 60th anniversary in 2013, the design of the chassis, suspension and other drivetrain features are rooted in the rigors of competition.
'Candidly, Corvette was not a high-performance car until Zora Arkus-Duntov fitted it wîth a V-8, and began campaigning Corvettes in racing,' said Tadge Juechter, Corvette's vehicle chief engineer. 'Today, the Corvettes competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans use many of the same components as Corvettes rolling off the assembly line at Bowling Green.'
The Corvette C6.R is built on the same aluminum frame rails that underpin production Corvette Z06 and ZR1 models. Other production chassis structures in the race car include the windshield frame, the hoop around the rear of the passenger compartment, the door hinge pillars, the drivetrain tunnel, the firewall and the floor pan. Corvette C6.R also uses the production §teering column out of the ZR1, wîth a fully adjustable §teering wheel, as well as production rack-and-pinion §teering.
For the production Corvette ZR1, the racing influence is also evident in the rear transaxle design that helps achieve a near-perfect 51/49 weight distribution, as well as the racing-developed carbon ceramic brake rotors and Michelin® Pilot® Sport Cup Zero Pressure tires (developed by the same Michelin engineers who developed tires for Corvette Racing in the American Le Mans Series). These features contribute to the ZR1 running Germany's legendary Nürburgring in 7:19.63.
Here's an overview of the chassis technologies that have shaped Corvette performance on and off the track:
C2: Independent suspension, disc brakes and aluminum wheels First-generation (1953-62) Corvettes used a modified passenger car frame and live rear axle, which worked well wîth the cars' comparatively modest performance output. Substantially greater power was on the horizon for the second-generation Corvette and racing-derived development spearheaded by the legendary Zora Arkus-Duntov – Corvette's first chief engineer – highlighted the need for a dedicated chassis system.
When the 'C2' (Corvette second generation) launched in 1963, it featured a sturdy, ladder-type frame design that was 90 percent stiffer than the sedan-based 'X'-frame of the first-generation models. It also featured an independent rear suspension held in place by a unique transverse leaf-spring design. Besides offering greater handling capability, the independent rear axle was lighter than the previous solid axle design.
The C2 also introduced disc brakes and aluminum wheels, based on designs Duntov refined on Corvette race cars.
'Duntov pioneered the model of technology transfer by applying what was learned on the race track to improve the production cars,' said Juechter, 'That philosophy continues to play an integral role in vehicle development at Chevrolet.'
C4: Únitized structure, composite springs, antilock brakes and traction control
The C4 generation (1984-96) represented an even bigger leap in chassis technology than the C2. The ladder frame that had served the Corvette for about 20 years was replaced by a unitized 'backbone' chassis that, again, was inspired by racing cars. It eliminated several cross members, allowing direct mounting of the rear differential and other components, which enabled greater interior room. It was also lighter than the previous ladder frame.
Integrated on the backbone chassis was a 'cage' incorporating the windshield frame, door frames, rear wall of the 'cockpit,' rocker panels and more. The Corvette's body panels were attached to the chassis and cage, marking the first time in the car's history that it didn't use a conventional body-on-frame design.
When it came to the suspension, the C4 again used unequal-length upper and lower A-arms in the front suspended by a new, transverse spring design similar to the rear suspension. At the rear was another transverse composite spring, but used wîth a new five-link independent suspension design vs. the previous three-link setup. The reinforced fiberglass springs were exceptionally strong yet compliant, and they worked in two ways: They flattened as they flexed, but when the vehicle rolled in a turn, they effectively formed an S shape. That added roll stiffness, which minimized the size – and weight – of the stabilizer bars.
Additional C4 chassis/drivetrain innovations included rack-and-pinion §teering (1984), aluminum driveshaft (1984), aluminum disc brake calipers (1984), antilock brakes (1986) and traction control (1992).
The C4 was an unqualified success on the track. In its first year of competition, the C4 Corvette went undefeated and captured the SCCA Showroom Stock GT-class championship. That launched a renewed effort on racing and the benefits of technology transfer.
C5: Hydroformed rails, rear transaxle, magnetic ride
The C5 generation (1997-2004) built on the success of the C4 wîth a new, unitized backbone chassis design, but it was lighter and stronger. Its construction employed a comparatively rare process called hydroforming, which used water pressure and heat to turn six-inch steel tubes into side rails for the Corvette chassis. Each tube replaced what formerly had comprised 36 separate, welded components in the C4 chassis.
The other big advancement wîth the fifth-generation Corvette was the use of a rear transaxle, which moved the transmission to the rear of the vehicle rather than the traditional position directly behind the engine. The tunnel between the engine and transaxle was enclosed wîth a panel that contributed to the chassis' strength and rigidity.
'Weight distribution was a primary motivator,' said Juechter. 'We were trying to get to 50/50, balancing the work load on the front and rear tires, which is extremely challenging to do wîth the front-engine, V-8 powered car. Moving to a rear transaxle dramatically improved the weight balance, as well as enabling a smoother ride and greater interior space.'
Additional C5 chassis/drivetrain innovations included run-flat tires (1997), Active Handling System (1998), magnesium wheels (2002) and Magnetic Selective Ride Control (2003).
The strength and performance capability delivered by the C5 chassis paid huge dividends on the race track. During six years of competition, Corvette Racing – the first factory-backed Corvette team in the car's history – led the C5.R to an overall victory at the Daytona 24-hour race and three 1-2 finishes in the GTS class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. During the 2004 season, Corvette Racing won every race the team entered and captured every pole position in the American Le Mans Series.
C6: Aluminum and magnesium structure
The success of the C5.R racing program directly influenced the design of the C6 Corvette (2005 – 2013) as designers and engineers further strengthened but lightened the proven backbone design.
At a glance, the C6 chassis looks similar to the C5, but it was shortened slightly and strengthened in key areas to enable greater performance and to enhance crashworthiness. And while it retained the same basic suspension design as the C5 – short/long arm front suspension and multi-link rear suspension wîth transverse composite springs – all of the components were redesigned. No C5 suspension parts were carried over to the C6.
For the first time, different chassis were available wîth different Corvette models. The higher-performance C6 Z06 and ZR1 models received a unique, aluminum-intensive backbone structure rather than the steel backbone used on other models. It was developed as a lighter foundation, featuring a magnesium roof structure and engine cradle, and weighed only 278 pounds – 49 percent less than the steel backbone's 414 pounds. Like the steel frame, the aluminum chassis was created via hydroforming.
Corvette Racing immediately employed the C6 chassis wîth its C6.R race cars. Corvette Racing has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans seven times since 2001, most recently beating Ferrari to the checkered flag in 2011.Source - GM
Chevrolet puts a groove into your ride•Chevrolet celebrates the 60th anniversary of legendary Corvette sports car
•More than 600 tunes mention the iconic Chevrolet brand
•Top 10 Chevrolet Corvette summer song playlist to stream
Hot summer day… roof top down… wind in your hair … smile in your face… and 'Little Red Corvette' cranked up to its loudest setting. There's nothing like music in the car to make a journey really fly by.
But, did you know that, aside from Prince's classic hit, more than 600 songs across all genres and multiple generations mention 'Chevrolet', 'Chevy' or the name of a Chevrolet vehicle in their lyrics?
The summer of 1952 saw the birth of Chevrolet's Corvette and rock and roll radio* and in the decades that followed these two icons have influenced each other and become legends in their own way.
Ever since, musicians like Don McLean and his 'American Pie' and Eric Clapton wîth 'I've Got a Rock 'N' Roll Heart' have included song lines about the Chevrolets they saw on the road or took out for a spin.
To celebrate Chevrolet's rich music culture and the 60th Anniversary of the Corvette convertible – the ultimate sports car legend wîth heart-stopping performance and unmistakable styling – has put together a top 10 playlist of summer songs celebrating the iconic brand and its cars.
'Chevrolet has sold more than 200 million cars and trucks around the world in its 101-year history, touching the lives of countless owners, families, and fans,' said Beate Stumpe, Director, Brand and Marketing, of Chevrolet Europe. 'It is fitting that we are recognizing these connections and celebrating Chevrolet's role in peoples' lives.'
Test-drive a Chevrolet through your headphones wîth Chevrolet's Top 10 Chevrolet Corvette summer song playlist.
•Little Red Corvette, Prince – 'Little red Corvette, Baby you're much too fast'
•99 In The Shade, Bon Jovi – 'I got the radio blasting in my old man's Chevrolet'
•American Pie, Don McLean – 'Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry'
•Crocodile Rock, Elton John – 'Had an old gold Chevy and a place of my own'
•I've Got A Rock 'N' Roll Heart, Eric Clapton – 'I get off on '57 Chevys'
•Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift – 'Just a boy in a Chevy truck'
•Camaro, Kings Of Leon - 'She look so cool in her new Camaro'
•How Bizarre, OMC – 'Is that a Chevy 69? How bizarre, how bizarre, how bizarre'
•he Greeting Song, Red Hot Chili Peppers – 'My Chevrolet rollin' to another play day'
•Water, The Who – 'My Chevrolet just made steam'Source - GM
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