Fear not, Corvette fans, the brand is still going racing
Calm down, Corvette motorsports fans. The end of Corvette Racing, capital “R,” doesn’t mean the end of Corvette racing, lower-case “r.”
Earlier this week, GM’s motorsport competition engineering director Mark Stielow told Sportscar365 that the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R, when it takes to the track at the 2024 IMSA Rolex 24 at Daytona and beyond, would not be compete as part of a fully General Motors–funded racing team. That’s the arrangement that GM uses now, and has for more than 25 years. Given the expected demise of the IMSA GTD Pro class, however, the disappearance of GM’s factory-backed effort is no surprise.
As it is, Chevrolet doesn’t supply GTD cars to IMSA privateer teams the way, say, Porsche, BMW, Acura, Lexus, and Mercedes-AMG do. That will change when the new Z06 GT3.R debuts, and Chevrolet makes the model available to teams. And since those teams are customers, expect advertising from sponsors on the sides of the cars. (Currently, Corvette Racing is owned by Chevrolet, so the only stickers are manufacturer-related.)
Porsche, BMW, Acura, Lexus, and Mercedes currently have private teams that field GTD-class cars, but each typically gets engineering help from its respective company, and often a factory driver or two to participate in the Grand Touring Daytona class. (Unlike the IMSA GTD Pro class, Grand Touring Daytona is based on entries from customer teams.) Expect some of the current Corvette factory drivers to stay with the brand, with Chevrolet likely signing some of their paychecks.
Since IMSA is going to a single GTD class, which will feature the privateers, the only fully Pro class in IMSA will be the GTP class for the prototype, from-scratch race cars. BMW, for example, races in the GTD class with Turner Motorsports, Mercedes with Winward, Acura with Gradient, and Lexus with Vasser Sullivan.
Stielow said that, typically, the Z06 GT3.R will be available just to teams. “We’re trying hard not to sell just to collectors. Everybody that buys a car, we want to make sure they’re racing them.” One team may be assigned to Pratt & Miller, an engineering firm that has long been a partner to Corvette.
Stielow told Sportscar365 that GM had already identified other partner teams. Don’t be surprised if some move from other makes to the new Corvette Z06 GT3.R, which has been in development for over two years.
Corvette racing will still be represented in IMSA and the World Endurance Championship, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and even the SRO series, just not by Corvette Racing after 2023.