Corvette back in 2009 in GT1 and GT2 America’s premier sports car team is set to write another history-making chapter in the American Le Mans Series. Corvette Racing unveiled its plans for the 2009 season Tuesday that will see the most successful team in Series history compete in two classes in the American Le Mans Series while shooting for another title at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In addition to its attempt for a sixth GT1 victory in the world’s most famous auto race, Corvette will enter the GT2 class in the second half of the American Le Mans Series season. Corvette Racing will launch a full-season assault in the new GT division in 2010.
“The Corvette brand is the gold standard for General Motors’ high performance automotive lineup, and we are thrilled that Corvette Racing will continue to be a prominent part of the American Le Mans Series in 2009,” said Series President and CEO Scott Atherton. “This confirms GM’s recognition of the importance racing has to the Corvette brand. Without question the Corvette Racing program is the best example of GM racing what it sells in the most relevant way possible. There is a direct link from the Corvette race car and the Corvette for sale in the showroom that no other form of racing can match. The rich racing history and success that Corvette has already established stands to grow again by directly competing against the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, Panoz and others in the most competitive class of sports car racing in the world.”
Corvette Racing will run a limited schedule in the GT1 class in the first half of the 2009 season as it prepares for its 10th Le Mans participation in June. The team will race in the GT1 class in the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and the popular Grand Prix of Long Beach. Following its return from the classic 24-hour endurance race in France, Corvette Racing will compete in the GT2 category in selected events in 2009 in preparation for a full-season program under new international GT class regulations in 2010.
“Corvette Racing will be well positioned for the future of production-based sports car racing worldwide with the plans we are announcing today,” said Steve Wesoloski, GM Racing Road Racing Group Manager. “The international regulations are converging around a single, global GT class, and we intend to continue Corvette’s racing heritage by competing against manufacturers and teams that represent the best of the best in sports car racing.
“The GT1 class has been a platform for GM Racing and our partners to develop the most technically sophisticated race cars in our history,” Wesoloski said. “We intend to apply the tremendous success we have had in the GT1 category to make the next-generation Corvette C6.R a strong contender in the new GT class.”
Manufacturers currently represented in the Series GT2 class or confirmed for future participation include Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, BMW, Ford, Dodge, and Panoz. Other manufacturers produce high-performance cars that could compete in the new GT category.
“In accordance with the regulations, the new version of the Corvette C6.R race car will be available to independent teams,” Wesoloski said. “Corvette and Chevrolet are global brands, and we look forward to seeing production-based Corvette race cars competing in series around the world under the leadership of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).”
“I also am happy for Corvette’s massive fan base, which have been loyal supporters of Corvette Racing, Pratt & Miller and the American Le Mans Series since the beginning,” Atherton added. “I have no doubts that the cheers will be louder, the autograph lines will be longer and the Corvette Corrals will be even more crowded as Corvette embarks on this new chapter of Corvette Racing history.”
The new GT Corvette C6.R will be based on the Corvette ZR1, utilizing the production model’s chassis and body design. A 6.0-liter version of the LS7.R small-block V-8 will power the Corvette GT2 entry in the transitional 2009 season. A new naturally aspirated 5.5-liter version of the production GM small-block V-8 will be developed to meet the new GT regulations that will take effect in 2010. The chassis and powertrain specifications of the new Corvette GT entry will be submitted to the ACO and FIA for homologation approval.
“Competing in GT2 will be a true test of our team's determination, talent and technology," said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager. “The level of competition in the category is already fierce, and that promises to become more intense with more manufacturers and top-tier teams. We’ve explored alternative paths, and we believe that competing in GT is the right road for Corvette Racing to take in the future.
“We will continue our commitment to cellulosic E85R ethanol racing fuel in the current GT1 Corvette C6.R and the next-generation Corvette C6.R that will compete in the new GT class,” Fehan said. “Corvette Racing's green racing initiative is proof of our commitment to using alternative fuels at the highest levels of motorsports.”
Corvette Racing is America's premier production sports car team, with 72 victories in 100 races. The most successful team in American Le Mans Series history, Corvette Racing has won seven consecutive Series GT1 manufacturers and team championships and six straight driver championships. Corvette Racing has five GT1 victories since 2001 in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“The 2009 season will mark Corvette Racing’s 10th anniversary in international endurance racing, and it will also mark the beginning of a new chapter in Corvette's racing history,” said Mark Kent, director of GM Racing. “Corvette Racing has consistently delivered tangible engineering and marketing benefits to GM and Chevrolet. Our announcement today of Corvette Racing's future plans affirms the continuing value of production-based racing as a development tool for advanced technology in powertrain, aerodynamics, lightweight materials, safety, and computer modeling.
“It's not just high-performance machines like the Corvette Z06 and ZR1 that bear witness to the positive impact of racing,” Kent said. “The lessons learned at Corvette Racing are benefiting mainstream production vehicles as GM continues to develop lightweight, aerodynamic, and fuel-efficient cars and trucks.”