Chevrolet said the next generation of the Corvette race car, codenamed C7.R, shares more in common with the consumer top-shelf Corvette, the Z06, than ever before, including engine, chassis, and aerodynamic technologies.
The Chevrolet press release said the racer and the Corvette Z06 will share the same aluminum frame manufactured in-house at the Corvette plant in Bowling Green, KY. In addition, advanced manufacturing elements including laser welding, Flowdrill-machined fasteners, and a patented aluminum spot-welding process help increase chassis rigidity in the C7.R by 40% compared to the C6.R, according to the automaker.
Chevrolet Director of Racing Mark Kent said, “In the first lap in the C7.R, the drivers felt the increase in chassis stiffness. The drivers instantly noticed that the C7.R handling was better over changing surface features and rough track segments. This is important as our drivers don’t always stay on the smooth pavement, and are constantly driving over curbing at corner apexes.”
In the engine bay, direct fuel injection is a feature on the Z06 and, for the first time since 2009, makes its return to the racing Corvette, the C7.R, though the C7.R uses a smaller-displacement engine than the mighty 6.2-liter supercharged V8 found in the Z06 because it is limited to 5.5 naturally aspirated liters by GT racing rules. Regardless, the release said direct injection is expected to benefit fuel efficiency on the track, meaning fewer pit stops — an all-important consideration in endurance races where the person who completes the most laps is the winner.
Kent said, “Direct injection offers two advantages for the race team: First, it offers drivers more precise throttle control, so that even the smallest changes in the driver’s throttle position delivers a proportional response from the engine. Second, direct injection typically improves fuel economy about 3%. That could be enough to bypass one fuel stop during a 24-hour race. Given that races are often won and lost in the pits, a 3% gain in fuel economy could translate to a significant advantage in track position.”
Aerodynamically, the release said the new-for-2014 Corvette Stingray borrowed many of its tricks from the C.6R racer. Remember the big deal that was made about the rear-mounted transaxle in the Stingray? That was a C6.R thing. The C.7R and Z06 take those tricks a step further, according to the release. Chasing increased cooling efficiencies and downforce, the C.7R and the Z06 have similar front splitters, rocker panels, and front- and rear brake cooling ducts, Chevrolet said.
Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter said, “We worked concurrently with the race team developing the aerodynamic packages for the Z06 and the C7.R. We even used the same modeling software to test both cars, enabling us to share data and wind-tunnel test results. As a result, the aerodynamics of the production Z06 produce the most downforce of any production car GM has ever tested, and we are closing in on the aero performance of a dedicated race car.”