Corvette Racing outlined its program for the next two years Tuesday, revealing plans to enter the LM GT2 category of the American Le Mans Series for a limited schedule in 2009. The popular Detroit area-based factory team will first campaign its ...
Corvette Racing outlined its program for the next two years Tuesday, revealing plans to enter the LM GT2 category of the American Le Mans Series for a limited schedule in 2009. The popular Detroit area-based factory team will first campaign its current LM GT1 class Corvette C6.Rs in three early season races next year, with primary focus on the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
The current-generation GT1 car will compete in next year's Twelve Hours of Sebring in March, followed by the Grand Prix of Long Beach round in April. Then, all focus will turn to Le Mans, with the Doug Fehan-led effort aiming to score its sixth GT1 class victory in the famed twice-around-the-clock French classic.
Corvette Racing's new GT2-spec Corvette C6.R will then debut in the American Le Mans Series for selected events later that season, in preparation for an all-out attack on the GT2 championship in 2010.
"Corvette Racing will be well positioned for the future of production-based sports car racing worldwide with the plans we are announcing today," said Steve Wesoloski, GM Racing Road Racing Group manager. "The international regulations are converging around a single, global GT class, and we intend to continue Corvette's motorsports heritage by racing against manufacturers and marques that Corvette competes with in the marketplace."
After facing little to no opposition in the GT1 category over the past two seasons, the team will now turn its focus on the highly competitive GT2 class. Manufacturers such as Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, BMW and Panoz are expected to be all well represented in 2009, making it the most diverse division in the series. This will be especially the case with the arrival of the factory Corvettes.
"Competing in GT2 will be a true test of our team's determination, talent and technology," said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager. "The level of competition in the category is already fierce, and that promises to become more intense with more manufacturers and top-tier teams. We've explored alternative paths, and we believe that competing in GT is the right road for Corvette Racing to take in the future."
In 2009, the new GT2 Corvette C6.R will be powered by a 6.0-liter version of the LS7.R small block V8 that currently is used in the GT1 machine. A new 5.5-liter engine will then be developed to fit the new GT regulations, which will come into effect in 2010. Wesoloski expects only minor changes will be made to the car for it to comply with the new rules package. The new car will also continue to run on cellulosic E85R fuel.
Corvette Racing is the first factory team to announce its long-term GT racing plans. Last month, SRO chairman and FIA GT Championship organizer, Stephane Ratel, confirmed the 2010 regulations for GT racing worldwide. The rules, expected to also be adopted by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), will once again encompass two GT categories, but with different performance levels.
Current GT2 cars will serve as the foundation for new regulations, with engine displacement and aerodynamic configurations making it either a "new" GT1 or GT2 car. Fehan said Corvette Racing's focus right now would be on the new GT2, as that appears to have the most popularity amongst other manufacturers.
Another exciting aspect of Corvette Racing's new GT2 car is the fact that there will be customer versions readily available. A number of teams already race the GT1 class Corvette C6.R in Europe, and presumably would be interested in continuing its ties with the American brand in the future.
"In accordance with the regulations, the new version of the Corvette C6.R race car will be available to independent teams," Wesoloski added. "Corvette and Chevrolet are global brands, and we look forward to seeing production-based Corvette race cars competing in series around the world under the leadership of the ACO and FIA."
No mention was made regarding how soon customer cars would be available, or Corvette Racing's driver line-up for 2009.