Corvette vs. the World: Corvette Racing readies global effort in 2022, customer programs in 2024
Corvette Racing is stepping up to the world stage next year. Chevy announced today that it will ready one Corvette C8.R race car for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship here in the states, as well as one for the FIA World Endurance Championship overseas as it seeks to do battle with the best challengers both in the States and abroad. The cars will come together for everyone’s favorite French dogfight, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in early June.
What’s more, the team says that all six factory drivers are returning for next season. In IMSA, that means Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor, and Nicky Catsburg will head up the fight, with Taylor and Garcia contesting the full 10-race GTD Pro schedule. (Recall that GTD Pro will replace the GTLM category beginning next year.) Catsburg will join the duo for the 24 Hours of Daytona, Sebring, and Petit Le Mans. Garcia and Taylor are currently heading into the final race of the 2021 season this weekend at Road Atlanta looking to repeat as GTLM Drivers champions in the No. 3 Corvette C8.R.
The pair are just ahead of the No. 4 C8.R team in this year’s IMSA championship, piloted by Tommy Milner, Nick Tandy, and Alexander Sims. That trio will take their car abroad next year in the six-event World Endurance Championship, where the car—renumbered as the No. 64 car—will challenge world competitors in the GTE Pro category at marque tracks like Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, as well as Fuji Speedway in Japan, Monza raceway in Italy, and the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. The marque event for the WEC season, as always, will be the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in which Chevy plans to enter both cars.
Both cars will still feature the C8.R’s 5.5-liter flat-plane-crank V-8, but in the No. 3 car, output will be slightly decreased as part of a change from GTLM to GTD Pro. The IMSA car will also feature an anti-lock braking system, along with other driver aids that are mandated by the class regulations.
Perhaps more exciting than the factory-backed efforts for next year is the addition of a customer-facing program planned for 2024. Chevy will roll out a new race car, the Corvette Z06 GT3.R, as a turn-key corvette for customer use in GT3 sports car racing across the globe. The Z06 GT3.R will feature the same aluminum chassis as the production Z06, as well as a lightly-modified version of the 670-horsepower LT6 5.5-liter flat-plane-crank V-8 and similar aero bits as the production car (presumably with the Z07 track pack.) The 2024 debut of the program will mark the first time that Chevy has offered a turn-key racing Corvette like this.
The C8.R boasts a uniquely American take on high-end sports car racing, especially now that Ford’s GT race cars are nowhere to be found on the grid. We love the fact that Chevy has eyes on competition at a global level in the years to come; Corvettes duking it out at iconic tracks like Fuji Speedway sounds like must-see TV. We’re even more thrilled that Chevy is stepping into the growing world of turn-key customer racing as well. It’s a testament to the performance potential of the mid-engine C8 Corvette platform, and we’d expect more than a few teams to start making calls to the fine folks at Chevrolet Motorsports in the months to come.