The Corvette C7.R made its racing debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January. Despite the advantages that the new and improved C7.R brings, Corvette Racing’s two cars finished fifth and tenth in the GTLM class at Daytona and will be hoping for a better result in the second race of the 2014 TUDOR United Sports Car Championship, the 12 Hours of Sebring.
One of the main advantages that the C7.R has over the rest of the pack is the pushrod design of its 5.5 liter V8 engine. As Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan told Car and Driver, pushrods allow for a smaller, simpler engine package, which in turn reduces weight and keeps the center of gravity of the engine low.
“I rue the day we would ever have to go to overhead cams. Bigger, heavier, giant heads. Cams in head, higher center of gravity, bigger package, in most cases more weight. All the additional parts like chains, pulleys, and gears—you just increase the opportunity for things to go wrong. Fuel-efficiency and emissions standards may at some point cause us to have to go that way, but when you look at the size and weight of our C7.R package, plus its power and reliability, there’s nothing that beats a two-valve engine,” Fehan said.
Surprisingly, the overhead valve design provides such an advantage, that Corvette Racing’s competitors have tried to get it penalized in the past.
“I sit on several FIA engine councils and it always comes up from our competitors. Whether it’s Porsche, Ferrari, or Aston Martin, they’re always complaining about what they perceive of as the advantages the two-valve engine has [over] their [designs], and want the two-valve engine penalized, said Fehan. “To that I say, ‘go back to the road car—if the two-valve engine is that much better for racing you ought to put it in your car.’ To which they have no answer.”
Corvette Racing might have some more complaints to deal with if it gets the finish it’s hoping for at the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 15.