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Corvette Racing boss Doug Fehan has confirmed that when the team of GT2-spec Vettes debut for their first full season at Sebring in March, they will be equipped with an all-new, smaller V8 engine. Gone is the 6.0-liter V8 from last year, which Fehan said was just an temporary engine. That motor, essentially a donwsized version of the GT1-spec 7.0-liter V8, had very little in common with the street-going Corvette’s V8.
This new 5.5-liter V8, however, is expected to be in many ways similar to a production V8 that will find its way into the next generation C7 Corvette. In fact, it will be built alongside engines for the ZR1 and Z06 at GM’s Performance Build Center.
We’ll be watching the new GT2 Corvettes closely during the 2010 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season, in articular during their race debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring running from March 17-20.
GALLERY: Corvette Racing ALMS GT2 Cars
Official release after the jump:
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Corvette Racing driver Jan Magnussen almost saw the top of the podium during the American Le Mans Series finale at Laguna Seca, but instead he saw the track-side hospital. Magnussen, driving the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R spent the last several laps of the race battling alonside Jörg Bergmeister in the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, before crashing into the wall just feet from the finish line, allowing the Porsche to finish first just 1.037 seconds ahead. (Skip ahead to the 1:52 mark for the best action).
Magnussen even took the lead several in the second last lap, but had to give the position back as it was determined (quite obviously) that he had passed over the pit-exit line to do so.
“I’m definitely sorry Jan went into the wall,” Bergmeister said. “I didn’t want that to happen. But it was a banging game. I’m glad he’s OK. It was tough racing. The Corvette passed me the first time at the hairpin but he went in way too deep and I was able to get back around him. He was a little quicker I have to say. I wasn’t trying to figure out where he was gaining time on me. I was trying to stay on track and in front.”
Magnussen recalls the incident slightly differently. “I didn’t think I even had a chance after I had to give the position back,” he said. “Going into the last corner I was too far away to make a proper attack, but Joerg parked the car. I didn’t see that, so I slid up and hit him a little – he went sideways and I managed to get on the inside. It was a drag race up the hill, and I managed to get ahead of him. Then he turned me into the wall, and he kept turning in. Then I spun around the nose of his car.”
Corvette Racing is looking into the incident but it’s hard to point fingers as there was a lot of bumping going on in the final laps of the race. “It’s unfortunate it ended the way it did. I think we’re going to review the videotapes and see what we can do to ascertain what went wrong there,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “I’m sure we’ll be working with the sanctioning body to address it and put into place safeguards to make sure incidents like this won’t happen again.”
Still, Fehan had to admit that, “Those last six laps were as exciting as I’ve seen in motor racing in a long time – two great teams, two great cars, two great drivers.”
The podium spot is the fifth consecutive podium for Corvette Racing in as many races, since the team joined the GT2 class.
Corvette Racing today unveiled its new GT2-spec C6.R racer and invited folks to listen in on a conference call with those responsible for running the team as well as one of the drivers of the No. 3 car, Johnny O’Connell.
For years Corvette Racing has ran a team of cars in the top-level GT1 category in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but decided to move to the lower GT1 class for several reasons, namely the competition and the marketing potential. For starters, the GT2-spec C6.R is closely based on the new ZR1, whereas the old GT1 cars had little in common with their road-going counterparts. Being so closely related to a street car is ideal for marketing.
“With the international regulations converging around a single GT class, Corvette Racing will continue its motorsports heritage by racing against manufacturers and marques that Corvette competes with in the marketplace, while also increasing the production content of the C6.R race car and the relevance of racing to our customers,” said Mark Kent, GM Racing manager. “This is truly a step that positions Corvette Racing for the future of production-based sports car racing worldwide, and a move that is perfectly aligned with GM’s marketing and business objectives in racing.”
As for the competition, the GT1 class has heated up over the past few years. Traditionally dominated by Porsche, Ferrari is now a major contender. Additional players include BMW, Aston Martin and Panoz. Competition on GT1 is almost non-existent now as Corvette Racing has developed into such a dominating sport over the years (beating Ferrari, Aston Martin, Saleen and Dodge).
“There was literally very little competition on a global basis to race in the existing GT1 category,” said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager.
Under the hood, Corvette Racing has modified the 7.0-liter GT1 powerplant, adding a new crankshaft to decrease the displacement to 6.o-liters (as the rules demand). A new engine is also in development for 2010 when the rules change to limit the maximum displacement to 5.5-liters. According to Fehan this new engine will be based on a production 5.5-liter V8 that is planned for future GM products. The Corvette Racing GT2-spec C6.R will make its racing debut at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 6-8. Familiar faces Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen will share the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R, and Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta will drive the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6. R.
GALLERY: GT2 Corvette C6.R
Read a transcript of the full teleconference after the jump: Continue Reading…