At the Chevrolet Experience at Daytona International Speedway (the former victory lane) Friday (Jan. 27), Chevrolet officially unveiled the Corvette Z06.R GT3. The new car, based on the Z06 variant of the C8 Corvette, will debut in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona in the GTD Pro class.
The Z06.R GT3 is the first factory Corvette that fully conforms to the FIA’s ruleset for GT3 race cars. It was also developed as a joint venture between Pratt Miller Engineering, the company responsible for the previous factory Corvette racers and General Motors’ Competition Motorsports Engineering. The current Chevrolet Corvette C8.R that competes in IMSA is a modified version of the car that was created for the former GT Le Mans class (GTE-Pro in the FIA World Endurance Championship).
The overall goal was to create a GT3 Corvette which will be very quick on all kinds of different tracks. They don’t want a car that is only good at one aspect of performance.
“The Corvette Z06 GT3.R breaks new ground for Chevrolet and the Corvette Racing program,” stated Mark Stielow, director of GM’s Competition Motorsports Engineering. “This customer-focused racecar leverages learnings
from throughout Corvette Racing’s lengthy and successful history, plus the expertise of our Corvette production design, engineering and powertrain teams.”
The new car is actually derived from an aluminum frame produced at the same factory in Bowling Green, Ky. that produces the street Corvettes. The car will run a 5.5-liter LT6 V8 engine that will use 70% of the same parts from the production engine.
In addition, the Z06.R GT3 will draw on and improve on the previous Corvette race cars. The Z06.R GT3 will have the same protective crash structure that debuted in the C7.R, but it will be a little easier to get in and out of thanks to a modified roll cage.
The unveiling is the culmination of years of work. The first simulator tests for the new car took place nearly two years ago in early 2021. The car has already been testing around the United States since last September.
As of now, the plan is to get the first Corvette Z06 GT3.Rs to customers in the third quarter of 2023, well ahead of the car’s debut in 2024. The current plan is for up to four teams to run the Corvette Z06.R GT3 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year, split between the GTD Pro and GTD classes. In addition, two cars are currently designated for the FIA World Endurance Championship, which will introduce GT3 cars for the first time next year in a currently unnamed class. 2025 would likely see a broader expansion for the Corvette Z06.R GT3 into additional series.
No team announcements have made as of yet. That said, there is demand.
“[The new Corvette Z06.R GT3 applications have] been an intense but very rewarding process,” said Laura Wontrop Klauser, GM’s sports car racing program manager. “From the time we announced a Corvette GT3 car, I’ve received more inquiries than I can count. It’s a testament to a known product like Corvette, the minds behind design, development and build, and the quarter-century success of Corvette Racing.”
Plans for Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS are still up in the air at the moment, in addition to a potential place in the Intercontinental GT Challenge. However, Chevrolet is evaluating both series at the time.
Those teams that chose to race the Corvette Z06.R GT3 in 2024 will have a full customer support program available to them. That will include a parts truck at every race so teams can acquire the necessary homologated parts for their cars. There will also be Corvette engineers available to the customer teams to help them get the most out of their new cars.
The amount of support that customer teams will receive will be dependent on their desires. Full engineering and race strategy assistance will be also be available for customer teams, both at the track and remotely.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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