How racing has improved the Chevrolet Corvette Z06

The new Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R was launched at Daytona last weekend. Image: Rhys Vandersyde

Chevrolet revealed its all-new Corvette Z06 GT3.R last weekend at Daytona International Speedway and it demonstrated the increasingly close ties between the brand’s road and race cars.

The Corvette GT3.R shares a large number of common parts with the road-going Z06, most notably approximately 70 per cent of the engine. That’s because the road car is powered by a new iteration of Chevrolet’s small-block V8 that measures 5.5-litres in capacity and has a flat-plane crankshaft design.

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A major reason for this is because the GT3.R is the first GT3-spec Corvette designed and developed in-house by Chevrolet and General Motors, with previous versions of the American sports car produced by independent operation Callaway. With more control over the project, Chevrolet has been able to connect the race and road cars more closely.

The C8 version of the Z06 was unveiled in late 2021 and features several features designed with racing in mind in addition to the new engine, most notably the double-wishbone front and rear suspension. This is also carried over to the race car because it allows a higher level of adjustment and for a wider range of racing wheel and tyre packages.

The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 road car shares a lot in common with the new GT3 version

The aluminium chassis is also shared between the cars, with production of the racing version beginning in the same Bowling Green, Kentucky plant as every road-going Corvette. The same is true of the LT6 engine, with each V8 bound for every GT3.R beginning life at Bowling Green, the famous home of all Corvettes.

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Chevrolet says production parts for the racing engine include the crankshaft, connecting rods, cylinder heads, fuel injectors, coils, gaskets and a variety of other sensors. It’s all part of Chevrolet’s plans to allow racing to improve its road-going vehicles, according to said Russ O’Blenes, director of Performance and Racing Propulsion Team at Chevrolet.

“Racing continues to play a key role in the development of our production engines,” O’Blenes said at the launch of the GT3.R. “There were valuable lessons learned during the C5-R through C7.R programs that aided in the development of our V-8 engines for production and racing — many dealing with efficiency, materials and light-weighting. The flow of information from Corvette Racing to production engineering and back has helped us build race and street-car engines that are fast, reliable and efficient.”

Chevrolet’s new Corvette Z06 GT3.R will begin racing at Daytona in 2024. Image: Rhys Vandersyde

Of course the GT3.R does vary in some notable ways too, with Chevrolet’s racing partner, Pratt Miller Engineering, adding key racing components such as the roll-cage, racing suspension components and improved braking hardware.

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Chevrolet’s motorsport engineers also worked with the GM Design Studio team to shape the aerodynamics of the GT3.R while retaining the important design cues.

“Corvette Racing has been an important influence on the design of Corvette production cars for 25 years,” explained Tadge Juechter, executive chief engineer, Corvette. “Corvette production and racing teams worked together closely in development to maximise the benefits of a mid-engine design, sharing lessons learned that set both programs up for all-out performance on the track.”

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