Besides the 2015 Corvette Z06, Chevrolet also brought at the 2014 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit the all-new C7.R racecar. Co-developed with the all-new 2015 Corvette Z06, the new C7.R will make its debut on the racetrack later this month at the 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 25-26, a race that kicks off the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Moreover, we will see both C7.R race cars in June at the 24 Hours of Le mans. Just like before, the race car and the Z06 will share the same, production-based aluminum frame but for the first time the frames for the vehicles will be built in-house at the Corvette’s Bowling Green assembly plant.
By leveraging advanced manufacturing materials such as laser welding, Flowdrill-machined fasteners and a GM-patented aluminum spot-welding process, the production structure is significantly stronger than its predecessor. Furthermore, the Corvette race car will be more fuel-efficient thanks to the addition of direct fuel injection to the Corvette Z06.
The last time a Corvette race car used this technology was back in 2009. In terms of aerodynamics, the Corvette Stingray follows the aerodynamic strategies from the CorvetteC C6.R and this includes the forward-titled radiator, functional hood and front-quarter panel vents, rear transmission and differential cooling intakes.
Moreover, the Z06 and C7.R take that aerodynamic foundation to the next level, sharing aggressive strategies for increased cooling and aerodynamic downforce, including similar front splitters, rocker panels, and front- and rear-brake cooling ducts. As expected, there are some differences between the race car and production Corvette Z06, such as the powertrain that is the same found on the C6.R due to the fact that GT rules limit the maximum displacement to 5.5-liter.
The suspension on the C7.R is modified to accommodate wider racing tires and larger brakes, again part of the GT regulations. On the aerodynamic side, one major difference is the shift away from U.S. National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, or NACA, ducts on the C7.R. The new C7.R now features 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.
Just like before, both the race car and the Z06 will employ the same, production-based aluminum frame, which would be constructed at the Corvette's Bowling Green, Ky., assembly site.
This production structure is stronger than its predecessor, thanks to the fact that the Corvette makes use of advanced manufacturing materials like laser welding and Flowdrill-machined fasteners. Moreover, the Corvette also employed a GM-patented aluminum spot-welding process. In fact, the race chassis for the C7.R is around 40 percent stronger than on the C6.R.
Mark Kent, director of Racing for Chevrolet, remarked that the drivers already felt the increased stiffness of the chassis in the first lap, with its handling much better over changing surface features as well as rough track segments. Kent remarked that this attribute is important since drivers don’t always drive on smooth pavement, and oftentimes have to pilot over curbs.
The Corvette Z06 will be the first Corvette race car since GT1 ended in 2009 to feature direct fuel injection technology, which allows the unit to be more efficient. This attribute should prove vital in long-distance endurance races like the Le Mans and Daytona as drivers won't have to waste their time doing more pit stops.