New Corvette C6.R Racers
2005 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R
7th June, 2005
Having scored three GTS class victories in five years, the Corvettes return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 18th June, with the new Corvette C6.R model aiming to maintain the winning streak. The new car has already won on two out of its three starts in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) so far and its drivers have been on the podium in every one of its races in 2005.
Corvette Racing returns to Le Mans with its successful endurance racing driver lineup: Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell and Max Papis are teamed in the No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R, and Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen share the No. 64 Compuware Corvette C6.R.
The GT1 battle again promises to be the headliner at Le Mans. "We expect a tough fight this year," said two-time Le Mans winner Oliver Gavin, voicing the thoughts of the entire team. "Le Mans is the most important race of the year for Corvette Racing, and it's the one event we focus on. Every driver relishes going to Le Mans because it's such a challenge."
This year's event marks the first appearance of the new Corvette C6.R at Le Mans, the successor to the C5-R that posted 1-2 finishes in 2001, 2002 and 2004. The C6.R has already scored a pair of wins in the American Le Mans Series, but sprint races on American soil are a far cry from 24 hours at Le Mans. The Corvette C6.R race car made its debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 2005 with a second and third place. Since then the Corvettes have conquered all opposition in the American Le Mans Series races at the Road Atlanta and Mid-Ohio tracks in the USA, giving the new car its first victories.
With its long straights and glass-smooth racing surface, the immense 8.4-mile Le Mans circuit rewards horsepower and demands aerodynamic efficiency. The Corvette C6.Rs are dressed for success at Le Sarthe with bodywork that is smaller and sleeker than its C5-R predecessor. They are propelled by proven and powerful 7-litre GM small-block V-8 engines under their carbon fibre hoods.
"We gave a wish list to Corvette chief engineer Dave Hill and his engineering team that was working on the production sixth-generation Corvette," recalled Corvette Racing programme manager Doug Fehan. "We wished for flush headlights for better aerodynamics. We wished for a single, large grille opening for the engine air intake, radiator, and brake cooling. We hoped they could find a way to give us a lower coefficient of drag. They granted all three wishes with the production C6 Corvette. The Corvette engineering team gave us exactly what we needed. The C6.R and the production C6 were developed in tandem."
Fehan further explained, "We had some challenges in packaging and aerodynamics with the new C6 body because it's 125 mm shorter than its predecessor, but some of those ultimately worked in our favour. The C6.R has a lower coefficient of drag than the C5-R, and we have a new front undertray and new rear diffuser that help its aerodynamic performance."
The Corvette C6.R programme continues GM’s tradition of racing production-based vehicles. Corvette Racing provides opportunities to improve both GM's production and racing vehicles through the two-way exchange of technology, personnel and processes.