Besides the 2015 Corvette Z06, Chevrolet also displayed the Corvette C7.R race car at the recent 2014 Detroit show. Co-developed with the Z06, the duo is the closest link in modern times between Corvettes built for racing and the road, according to Chevy, sharing unprecedented levels of engineering and components including chassis architecture, engine tech and aerodynamics.
As before, the race car and the Z06 will share the same, production-based aluminium frame. However, for the first time, the frames for the race car and production Z06 will be built in-house at Corvette’s Bowling Green assembly plant. The C7.R’s chassis is 40% stronger than the outgoing C6.R’s.
The addition of direct fuel injection to the Z06 will enable the tech to return to a Corvette race car for the first time since the end of the GT1 era in 2009. It promises greater efficiency, which can make a big difference in long-distance endurance racing through fewer pit stops.
The aerodynamic strategies of the Corvette Stingray came directly from the C6.R, including the forward-tilted radiator, functional hood and front-quarter panel vents, and rear transmission and differential cooling intakes. The Z06 and C7.R take sharing to the next level, sharing aggressive strategies for increased cooling and downforce, including similar front splitters, rocker panels, and front/rear-brake cooling ducts.
There are, of course, differences between race and road car. The C7.R carries over the powertrain for the C6.R, as GT rules limit maximum displacement to 5.5L, and prohibit forced induction, so the new Z06’s 625 hp supercharged engine won’t be legal. The R’s suspension is also modified to accommodate wider racing tyres and larger brakes, again part of GT regulations.
On the aerodynamic side, instead of the C6.R’s two NACA ducts, on top of the rear bodywork and near the position of the rear wheels, the C7.R has openings on each of the rear quarter panels, above the brake ducts, which will draw air to help cool the race car’s transaxle and differential. Also, a larger radiator inlet has the added benefit of generating smoother airflow over the rear wing for better high-speed handling and stability.
Corvette Racing will field two C7.Rs in 2014, starting at the 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona. The race kicks off the Tudor United SportsCar Championship, a new series after the merger of the American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. The C7.R will compete in the GT Le Mans class in 11 races around North America. The team is also expected race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTE Pro class.