GT1 / GT2 in '09 .... FIA-GT in '10
Corvette Racing will aim for a sixth victory in the GT1 class in the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans before entering the GT2 category in the second half of the American Le Mans Series 2009 season. Corvette Racing will launch a full-season assault in the restructured GT division in 2010.
Corvette Racing will run a limited schedule in the GT1 class in the first half of the 2009 ALMS season as it prepares for its 10th participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. The team will race in the GT1 class in the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and the popular Grand Prix of Long Beach. Following its return from the classic 24-hour endurance race in France, Corvette Racing will compete in the GT2 category in selected ALMS events in 2009 in preparation for a full-season program under new international GT class regulations in 2010.
"Corvette Racing will be well positioned for the future of production-based sports car racing worldwide with the plans we are announcing today," said Steve Wesoloski, GM Racing Road Racing Group manager. "The international regulations are converging around a single, global GT class, and we intend to continue Corvette's motorsports heritage by racing against manufacturers and marques that Corvette competes with in the marketplace.
"The GT1 class has been a platform for GM Racing and our partners to develop the most technically sophisticated race cars in our history," Wesoloski said. "We intend to apply the tremendous success we have had in the GT1 category to make the next-generation Corvette C6.R a strong contender in the new GT class."
Manufacturers currently represented in the ALMS GT2 class or confirmed for future participation include Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, BMW, Ford, Dodge, and Panoz. Other manufacturers produce high-performance cars that could compete in the new GT category.
"In accordance with the regulations, the new version of the Corvette C6.R race car will be available to independent teams," Wesoloski said. "Corvette and Chevrolet are global brands, and we look forward to seeing production-based Corvette race cars competing in series around the world under the leadership of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA)."
The new GT Corvette C6.R race car will be based on the production Corvette's chassis and body design. A 6.0-liter version of the LS7.R small-block V-8 will power the Corvette GT2 entry in the transitional 2009 season. A new naturally aspirated 5.5-liter version of the production GM small-block V-8 will be developed to meet the new GT regulations that will take effect in 2010. The chassis and powertrain specifications of the new Corvette GT entry will be submitted to the ACO and FIA for homologation approval.
"Competing in GT2 will be a true test of our team's determination, talent and technology," said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager. "The level of competition in the category is already fierce, and that promises to become more intense with more manufacturers and top-tier teams. We've explored alternative paths, and we believe that competing in GT is the right road for Corvette Racing to take in the future.
"We will continue our commitment to cellulosic E85R ethanol racing fuel in the current GT1 Corvette C6.R and the next-generation Corvette C6.R that will compete in the new GT class " Fehan said. "Corvette Racing's green racing initiative is proof of our commitment to using alternative fuels at the highest levels of motorsports."
Corvette Racing is America's premier production sports car team, with 72 wins in 100 races. The most successful team in ALMS history, Corvette Racing has won seven consecutive ALMS GT1 manufacturers and team championships and six straight drivers championships. Corvette Racing has five GT1 victories since 2001 in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.
"The 2009 season will mark Corvette Racing's 10th anniversary in international endurance racing, and it will also mark the beginning of a new chapter in Corvette's racing history," said Mark Kent, director of GM Racing. "Corvette Racing has consistently delivered tangible engineering and marketing benefits to GM and Chevrolet. Our announcement today of Corvette Racing's future plans affirms the continuing value of production-based racing as a development tool for advanced technology in powertrain, aerodynamics, lightweight materials, safety, and computer modeling.
"It's not just high-performance machines like the Corvette Z06 and ZR1 that bear witness to the positive impact of racing," Kent said. "The lessons learned at Corvette Racing can benefit mainstream production vehicles as GM continues to develop lightweight, aerodynamic, and fuel-efficient cars and trucks."