This weekend marks the European debut of the Chevrolet Corvett C6.R ZR1 which normally competes in the American Le Mans Series. Corvette has a long history at Le Mans, dating back 50 years. In recent years, the Corvette has competed in the more expensive GT1 class. As time has gone by, this class has become too expensive and distant from its road-going cousin. Once Aston Martin moved into Prototype racing in 2009, Corvette were competing against themselves.
Here is a great example of how much of the exterior body is shared with the ZR1 roadcar. The new race car has smaller splitters and rear wing compared to the old GT1. Like Aston Martin, an Aluminum chassis is mated to a steel roll-cage which is not easy to engineer.
Top speed is similar to the GT1 car due to the reduction in downforce. Stopping is a little harder for the drivers as carbon brakes are not permitted in GT2
Depsite a lower class, the car remains agressive and quite similar in appearance to the older GT1.
Corvette knows it has some very tough competition. Ferrari, Porsche and BMW are all closely matched and one slip up from anyone will put their entry out of contention.
It makes a nice change for a manufacturer to release CFD images like these. I love these!
This top image shows the air flow and pressure over the car.
This image shows the turbulence over the car. This is a great illustration of how much turbulence can be created by the wheels and the rear wing.
Air flow into the car is also vital. Air intakes in the mirror and the poly windows direct air to the driver. All GT2 cars have Air Conditioning so the driver does not faint. To keep the size of the air conditioning unit small, a bulkhead is normally placed behind the driver, reducing the square area of the cockpit to be cooled.
The cockpit of the Corvette is full of information with rear view cameras and electronic displays dominating the area immediately ahead of the driver. You can also see part of the yellow protection box, which the driver has to step over to get into the car.
You couldnt make a door much lighter! Note the cable which disapears into the door. This feeds the number panel on the outside of the door so it can light up at night.
With a roll cage and the aforementioned safety box, its hard to get in and out of the Corvette, but mechanics are limited in numbers, so there is always plenty of time for driver ‘A’ to get out and driver ‘B’ to climb in and belt up
At the rear you’ll notice a relatively small diffuser at the base of the bumper. As with all GT2’s, the rear wing has a large chord (depth) and a huge Gurney flap, but this is much smaller than the old GT1 machine.
access to rear suspension and fuel tanks is from under the rear hatch cover.
The 2010 GT2 machine is powered by a 5.5 Litre V8 engine developing approximately 500 bhp in race trim
A large air outlet helps air escape from the radiators, sealing it up from the engine. This flow of air through the front bumper, out over the hood not only cools the fluids, it helps aerodynamics, reducing drag.
The engine is fed air from air intakes in the lower part of the front bumper. You can just see the small air chambers, either side of the radiators by the rear edge of the front bumper. Regulations restrict the amount of air which can be fed to the engine and this can be used to control performance.
The same Corvettes which compete in the ALMS are here at Le Mans. They left for Europe a couple of days after the Laguna Seca round last month. Car #63 (3 in ALMS) is piloted by Johnny O’Connell, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. This car has a red windshield strip.
The sister car, #64 (#4 in ALMS) has Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Emanuel Collard at the wheel. This car has a black windshild strip and mirrors.
French team, Luc Alphand Aventures are running a couple of the older Corvette C6.R GT1 in this years race. This will be the last Le Mans for this generation of GT1 cars.
This shot shows all the dirt and debris from four hours at Laguna Seca. Imagine it, on Sunday after 24 hours. Will we be able to see Yellow?
As part of the 50th Anniverary of Corvette at Le Mans, each car will carry a special logo on the hood. Mechanics’ team gear also reflects this.
As we get ready for the big race, the Corvettes will strart 2nd and 3rd in their class behind the Risi Competizione Ferrari. Nothing less than winning will be good enough for Corvette. Risi Competizione will have other ideas. We will look at Risi and their Ferrari before the main event.
– Andy Blackmore