Chevrolet has chosen perhaps the ideal and most obvious choice to provide customer support for its nascent Corvette Z06 GT3.R program: Pratt Miller Engineering, Corvette Racing’s partner for the entirety of its 25-year modern history.
The company that has helped develop each iteration of Corvette race car for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and its predecessors, as well as Le Mans and now World Endurance Championship, is helping develop the Z06 GT3.R as Corvette Racing prepares not only for the 2024 seasons of WeatherTech Championship but also WEC and eventually customer use in a variety of series worldwide. PME will provide customer technical and engineering support in both North America and worldwide to teams racing the cars. The close working relationship already established between PME and GM’s Competition Motorsports Engineering has allowed for quicker development as they seek to build the best customer racing car possible.
“Pratt Miller is doing the primary support on the technical side for the car,” says Christie Bagne, Corvette Z06 GT3.R Program Manager. “And a big benefit of that is how efficiently that works in terms of the designers sitting 50 feet away from the race team, who’s prepping the race cars, building the race cars; and they’re 50 feet away from the team who’s machining parts that will go on the race car or 50 feet away from the designers who are releasing the parts for machining. So, effectively, we have very quick feedback in terms of when an engineer releases a part, the person who’s machining that part can walk right over and give them feedback on it. And when we’re doing things like choosing air jack locations, or air jack height, or wheels, they can walk over and ask the mechanics who are actually doing the pit stops at the races to go try out different configurations to optimize for that. So we’ve had very efficient feedback in that we don’t have to wait for a track test to have crews doing the pit stops to get that feedback to the engineering team. That’s all just very quick.”
While the 2024 Rolex 24 at Daytona seems far away, the finish line for FIA homologation is rapidly approaching. Initial wind tunnel and powertrain testing begins shortly after Le Mans, and full homologation is expected in October. In the meantime, there are opportunities for Bagne and others in the program to better understand GT3 competition as their first in-house true GT3 car marches toward fruition.
“We’ve locked in what the support is going to look like and who will be providing it, so we’re moving on to focus on things like attending key GT3 races,” explains Bagne. “We’ll be over at (the) Nurburgring 24, we’ll be meeting with the series, we’ll be looking at different teams, we’ll be seeing how they’re operating, (how they’re) successful, working through all of that, and the very unique regulations that they have there to make sure that if we choose to deploy a car in that series, we’ve gotten the lay of the land well in advance. So that’s the goal for going to Nurburgring 24 this year; it’s the goal for going to Spa 24 this year. We’re looking forward to going to the Indy 8 Hour and seeing some of the big international teams coming into the United States. All of those are just opportunities for us to learn as much as possible about this GT3 space, and what customers need to be successful within it.”