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Chevrolet finally yanked the cover from its new Corvette Z06 GT3.R race car today, at Daytona International Speedway. The big reveal comes exactly one year before the mid-engine racer makes its competition debut at the 2024 Rolex 24.
It’s the first Corvette built to the global GT3 rules, which includes the GT classes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship—the sanctioning body for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The Corvettes that took to the track last year, as well as the sole yellow Vette that will campaign in IMSA this year, are GT Le Mans-class cars, detuned to roughly meet GT3 regulations.
With an eye specifically toward customer racing, the Z06 GT3.R will be eligible for multiple championships in North America and around the world, with parts and technical support for its customers. For the past 25 years, the Corvette has not been available to customer teams. Come next year, this will change entirely as privateers are expected to field a majority of the Z06 GT3.R racers.
“The Corvette Z06 GT3.R breaks new ground for Chevrolet and the Corvette Racing program,” said Mark Stielow, director of GM Motorsports Competition Engineering. Based on the mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette Z06, this new Vette takes the technology transfer between racer and production car to a new level with more shared components and features than ever before.
“Corvette Racing has been an important influence on the design of Corvette production cars for 25 years,” said Tadge Juechter, executive chief engineer for the Corvette. “Corvette production and racing teams worked together closely in development to maximize the benefits of a mid-engine design, sharing lessons learned that set both programs up for all-out performance on the track.”
The Z06 GT3.R begins life as an aluminum chassis frame from Chevrolet’s Bowling Green Assembly plant in Kentucky. The frame provides a lightweight underpinning for both Z06 and Z06 GT3.R. The skeleton is then shipped to Michigan-based partner Pratt & Miller, where a purpose-built steel roll cage is welded onto a base plate, which is secured to the chassis.
Chevrolet’s motorsports engineering team adds race springs and dampers, competition-specific rotors, calipers, and pads to the rig. The Z06 GT3.R rides on 18-inch front and rear wheels—the same diameter as on the C8.R. The goal was to design a GT3-spec Corvette that is suitable across different tire specifications, balance-of-performance settings, and other customer preferences without sacrificing performance or drivability on a variety of tracks and racing surfaces.
The Corvette Z06 GT3.R will use a 5.5-liter, flat-plane crankshaft DOHC V-8 derived from the production Z06. This version of the LT6 engine began on-track development in 2019 with the initial testing of the C8.R, ahead of its use in the production Z06.
The new racer’s power plant also originates from the Performance Build Center in Bowling Green, the same line on which all production Corvette Z06 engines are built. It 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.
The reveal of the Z06 GT3.R follows a two-year testing program. Virtual simulation through Chevrolet’s Driver in the Loop simulator began in early 2021. The first on-track test of the Z06 GT3.R took place in September 2022, which means the Z06 GT3.R will have a full year of on-track development when it gets into the hands of customers in the third quarter of 2023.
“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.
“This has been an intense but very rewarding process,” Klauser said. “From the time we announced a Corvette GT3 car, I’ve received more inquiries than I can count. It’s a testament to a known product like Corvette, the minds behind design, development and build, and the quarter-century success of Corvette Racing.”