Chevrolet unveils first GT3-spec Corvette

Chevrolet unveils first GT3-spec Corvette


Chevrolet unveils first GT3-spec Corvette


Corvette Racing has written quite a history over the last quarter-century, including 15 team championships, eight 24 Hours of Le Mans victories and four Rolex 24 At Daytona wins. But an entirely new chapter begins in January 2024 when the Corvette Z06 GT3.R makes its competition debut at the 62nd Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Chevrolet has revealed its first GT3 car, the all-new Corvette Z06 GT3.R. Corvette Racing is entering its second year racing a car adapted from its GTLM race car to fit into GTD parameters, but Corvette Racing, as well as customer teams, will have a fully FIA-homologated car eligible for IMSA’s GTD PRO and GTD classes as well as GT3 championships worldwide. That could mean Corvettes at such iconic races as the 24 Hours of Spa, the 12 Hours of Bathurst or the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, where they usually have not had the option to compete.

As with previous Corvette race cars, design and development of the mid-engine Z06 GT3.R is a collaboration between GM’s Competition Motorsports Engineering and Pratt Miller Engineering. With an eye specifically toward customer racing, the Z06 GT3.R will be eligible for multiple championships in North America, such as GTD PRO and GTD in IMSA and SRO’s GT World Challenge America, and around the world with a high level of parts and technical support available for its customers.

“The Corvette Z06 GT3.R breaks new ground for Chevrolet and the Corvette Racing program,” said Mark Stielow, director, GM Motorsports Engineering Competition. “This customer-focused race car leverages learnings from throughout Corvette Racing’s lengthy and successful history, plus the expertise of our Corvette production design, engineering and powertrain teams.”

Based on the Z06 version of the C8 Corvette, the Z06 GT3.R will have more shared components between road and race car than previous racing Corvettes. The Z06 GT3.R begins its life as an aluminum chassis frame from Chevrolet’s Bowling Green Assembly plant in Kentucky. Once in Michigan at Pratt Miller, a purpose-built steel roll cage is welded onto a base plate, which is secured to the chassis.

A double-wishbone suspension at the front and rear promotes a higher level of adjustability and fitment of racing-specific tire sizes. This is the same front and rear suspension configuration as on the Z06 production vehicle. The motorsports engineering team added race springs and dampers, competition-specific rotors, calipers and pads. The Z06 GT3.R rides on 18-inch front and rear wheels — the same as on the C8.R.

Advanced aerodynamic strategies also link the road-going Corvette and its GT3 counterpart. Motorsports engineers worked with the GM Design Studio to develop an aero package specific to the Z06 GT3.R to optimize levels of downforce, stability, drag reduction and cooling. The goal was to design a GT3-spec Corvette that is suitable across different tire specifications, Balance-of-Performance settings and other customer preferences while not sacrificing performance or drivability on a variety of tracks and racing surfaces.

The Corvette Z06 GT3.R will feature a 5.5-liter, flat-plane crankshaft DOHC V8 engine derived from the production Z06. This engine began on-track development in 2019 with the initial testing of the C8.R ahead of its use in the production Z06. The powerplant shares more than 70 percent of its parts with the production Z06 engine, including the crankshaft, connecting rods, cylinder heads, fuel injectors, coils, gaskets and a variety of other sensors.

“Racing continues to play a key role in the development of our production engines,” said Russ O’Blenes, director, Performance and Racing Propulsion Team. “There were valuable lessons learned during the C5-R through C7.R programs that aided in the development of our V8 engines for production and racing — many dealing with efficiency, materials and light-weighting. The flow of information from Corvette Racing to production engineering and back has helped us build race and street-car engines that are fast, reliable and efficient.”

Testing for the Z06 GT3.R began with work on Chevrolet’s Driver in the Loop simulator in early 2021, with the first on-track test conducted last September. By the time its gets into the first customers’ hands in third quarter of this year, it will have had a full year of on-track development.

“We’re all very pleased with the results from the track testing program so far,” said Laura Wontrop Klauser, GM sports car racing program manager. “What’s even more encouraging is the correlation between simulator sessions and what we’re finding in the real-world track testing. It’s another level of validation that gives us confidence in the development process.”

Customer support has become a critical part of successful GT3 racing, with manufacturers making sure teams have the parts and engineering knowledge they need to compete. Chevrolet and Corvette Racing is establishing a complete customer support program that will be available to teams running the Z06 GT3.R in North America and elsewhere around the world.

An at-track parts truck will be a fixture at North American race events starting in 2024 with expansion to overseas support ramping up in the first two years of the Z06 GT3.R program. Corvette Racing will carry full spares packages of bodywork and internal components for its customer teams in supported championships. On the technical side, engineers will assist teams with items such as pre-race documentation, including chassis setup and data sharing plus post-event documentation, data analysis, and relative comparisons. Full engineering, race strategy and other items will be incremental support options for Corvette Z06 GT3.R customer teams.

“Supporting our customers is an area where we are putting in a lot of time and effort,” said Christie Bagne, GM assistant sports car racing program manager. “With this being our first customer GT3 offering, we have had meetings with many prospective customers to learn from their previous experiences, find what is important to them from a support standpoint and come up with a program that meets their expectations.”

The Corvette Z06 GT3.R will undergo further testing prior to FIA homologation and the first customer deliveries later this year.