Chevrolet Corvette C6.R - GT class monster
As one the most competitive American cars, Chevrolet Corvette has always been closely associated with race tracks around the world. Following the footsteps of Zora Arkhus-Duntov who designed the Corvette with both racing and cruising in mind, Pratt & Miller have created a magnificent race car called Corvette C5-R. Its successor, the C6.R was built together with Chevrolet’s engineers. But, unlike the C5-R which was developed while C5 was in the streets for years, the C6.R was developed for the road and the tracks at the same time, and both of the cars had their debuts at the 2005 North American International Auto Show.
Evolving the C5-R
With that in mind, the C6.R was more of a design evolution of the well-established Corvette C5-R than an all-new track monster, and it has managed to live up to high expectations. The Corvette C6.R retained much of the mechanical components of its predecessor, namely the Katech 7.0l V8 engine with 590 horsepower, which was now more of an adaptation of the LS7 found in the Z06 Corvette. One of the innovations was the use of variable displacement, granting better fuel consumption during the caution laps in endurance races. The system was to disable half of the cylinders when activated, but despite being thoroughly tested, it collapsed in the 2007 24 Hours of Le Mans, which led the engineers to abandon it.
Corvette C6.R at the pinnacle of American engineering
Since C6.R lacks a rear window due to structure modified for endurance racing, a tiny camera sits on the rear spoiler, providing drivers with all the necessary data via a cockpit screen. Also, Corvette C6.R features an air-conditioning unit, easing the drivers’ battle with the elements during the long hours spent in the car.
Corvette C6.R was widely used in GT1
In its debut race, the Corvette C6.R GT1 was beaten by Prodrive Aston Martin DBR9 at Sebring, but achieved a 1-2 victory at 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it outlasted the Aston Martin in GT1 class. In 2006, Corvette Racing and Prodrive battled on North American and European turf, but the Corvette ended up winning on both continents. In 2007, Prodrive concentrated on Le Mans, leaving Corvette C6.R as the only GT1 competitor in nine out of twelve American Le Mans Series events. That year, Aston Martin snatched the win at Le Mans, leaving Corvette Racing in the second place. Besides Corvette Racing, the GT1-spec Corvette C6.R was used by numerous privateer teams, including GLPK-Carsport, PK Carsport, Carsport Holland, DKR Engineering, Luc Alphand Aventures and Sellslagh Racing Team.
Video : The sound of a Corvette C6.R GT2 on track
Feared in the GT2 class
In 2008, an announcement had been made that Corvette C6.R would compete in GT1 class only for the first half of the season, and after 24 Hours of Le Mans, Corvette Racing was going to run a GT2-spec C6.R. The car had a newly designed 6.0l V8 engine with 470HP, based on the 7.0l LS7.R from the GT1 model. The car’s styling resembled the ZR-1 road car, and its first race was the 2009 Mid Ohio, taking the 2nd place with Jan Magnussen and Johnny O’Connell behind the wheel. At the 2010 Le Mans, only one out of four cars finished the race, and in 2011, the improved Corvette C6.R won the race in GTE-Pro class.
In 2012 and 2013, Corvette Racing had mixed success – it scored the 2nd place at the 2012 12 Hours of Sebring, and won the 2012 and 2013 American Le Mans Series, but finished 5th in class at Le Mans.
Despite Corvette Racing’s retirement of C6.R, the car is still used by numerous privateers. It is remembered as one of the best GT cars ever built, and Corvette Racing’s C7.R which had its debut in 2014 will have a tough time outshining the famous predecessor, although it’s already well on the way to do so.