For those that are unaware, new specifications have been put into place which ultimately required a new chassis design for Corvette Racing’s C7.R. While the cars still look very similar, if not identical t0 most, there have been some key changes made primarily for safety. Considering that fact that one of the C7.R chassis suffered a high-speed collision not so long ago, the new chassis are a sight for sore eyes.
Accordingly, there are mandatory tests next month that will be held in France, to begin determining some of the Balance of Performance metrics. Naturally the Corvette Racing GTE cars are being constructed behind closed doors at Prat & Miller.
Doug Fehan is the Corvette Racing program manager, and in a recent interview with Sportscar365, he seemed more than happy to fill everyone in on the progress of our favorite sports car racing team.
Fehan began, “We’re very, very close to having that first chassis done. We’ll be doing some shakedown runs on it shortly. We’ll then pack it up and ship it off to Ladoux.”
That being said, Fehan and the team will only have time to do system checks on the car, and probably a few runs around GM’s own road course; also known as the proving grounds located in Milford, Michigan. The car will then be loaded into a large transport airplane and flown into France to attend the FIA’s Balance of Performance test. Though conditions may vary, these race cars often live the same jet set lifestyle as the men who pilot them.
Two of the C7.R’s competition, the Ford GT and the Ferrari 488 GTB, have had significantly more time for testing and tuning. Reportedly Fehan had mentioned that he isn’t concerned by the lack of track time going into the BoP. While there are definite changes to the new chassis, many parts are carrying over, and they are certainly some trusted components and systems.
Fehan continued, “That would be a logical concern and I don’t think anybody’s happy with the amount of testing they do for anything at any time. The reality is that the car is not wildly different from our current car. It has the safety improvements built into it and it has some small aero changes on it and that’s about it. We’re not overly concerned about it. Would we like to have more? Sure. But that’s both time and money. Neither one of those things are in abundance at what we’re working on. So we have to be very prudent about how we spend both.”
“The Ford has the advantage of designing a race car and then rolling it over into a street car,” he said. “We’re selling 35,000 units a year; we don’t have that same concept. That’s very flattering that they would do that, when you look at what’s required to go out and dethrone what we’ve earned. I’m really flattered they have to go out and do that. But that aside, when you look at the [new Corvette C7.R], there would be no real discernible difference. If you just glanced at it, you would’t see anything. It looks the same. There’s nothing dramatically new, or dramatically radical and certainly nothing that resembles the Ford.”
Despite a new fighter coming into the mix, Fehan can be heard welcoming the rival American team into the GTE/GT Le Mans series. While it can be wise to keep you enemies close, everybody is ultimately involved for a love of motorsports, and everyone is happy to see more joining in on the fun…blue oval or not. Additionally, Fehan has applauded both eh FIA and ACO for mandating the recent safety regulations and seeing them through. After all, the best race is one where everybody safely returns home.
“I think the Le Mans regulations are great,” he said. “We’ve worked real hard as manufacturers to develop them. I think it’s providing a wonderful foundation for moving forward. It does a couple of things. Number one: It gives them a better base for which they can build a Balance of Performance because there’s not a lot of changes. Number two, it controls the costs. You don’t have to worry about making huge modifications. I think it’s great for the sport. The reasons that series are successful are because the rules are stable.”
All in all, we are happy to hear that the new C7.R will make its scheduled appearance in France, and we are looking forward to an exciting season. While we obviously stand behind Corvette Racing, we also wish the incoming Ford team a safe and successful season.