The step from last year’s Chevrolet Corvette C6.R to the 2014 C7.R is the biggest in the history of the Chevrolet GT program, according to long-time driver Oliver Gavin.
The Briton explained that the gains made with the new GTE/GTLM contender, which was officially launched Monday at the Detroit auto show (watch video below), are even bigger than those made by Corvette Racing when it went from the C5-R to the original GT1 class C6.R ahead of the 2005 season.
“The step from the C5-R to the C6.R GT1 car was big, but this is even bigger,” said Gavin, who is entering his 13th season with the Pratt & Miller-run Corvette Racing squad. It is another step entirely in the evolution of the cars Pratt & Miller has done for Corvette Racing.”
“When it comes to endurance racing, Corvette has been the benchmark of success for nearly 15 years,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “A great deal of the team’s success can be attributed to the symbiotic relationship between Corvette Racing and the production vehicles. The 2015 Corvette Z06 and new C7.R will be more competitive on the street and track due to successful design of the Corvette Stingray – which itself is heavily based on the C6.R racecar.”
Gavin, who will contest this season’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship alongside Tommy Milner, explained that the two key ingredients that have resulted in the gains for 2014 are a stiffer chassis and the switch to a direct-injection engine.
“In terms of setup, we are seeing that things that we do to the car have a much greater influence: it is much more sensitive to changes,” he said.
Gavin said that technology transfer between Pratt & Miller and Chevrolet’s design staff had been important.
“This is the first Corvette that has designed with racing in mind,” he continued. “You can see how some of the styling has been driven by the race program.”
The new Corvette, which has been testing since last summer, makes its debut in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Gavin and Milner are joined by Brit Robin Liddell, while IndyCar star Ryan Briscoe has been brought in to drive alongside 2013 American Le Mans Series GT champions Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia.
TIMELINE: PRATT & MILLER CORVETTES
1999-2004 GTS/GT1 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R
2005-2009 GT1 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R
2009-2013 GT2/GTE/GT Chevrolet Corvette C6.R
2014- Chevrolet Corvette C7.R