This past year Corvette Racing celebrated a massively successful racing season, winning three of the biggest events in sports car racing: the Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. However the team was unable to lock down the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship title and now has it in its crosshairs for 2016.
Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan told Motorsport the team was “frustrated,” following the conclusion of this year’s racing season, which saw drivers Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia finish third in GTLM. With unfair Balance of Performance regulations laid on the team, the title was virtually out of reach, but it’s hoping it can avoid running into a similar situation in 2016.
“We do think the Balance of Performance has been counting against us,” Fehan said. “I think we’ve been penalized for our car being good, basically.”
“I mean, when was the last time we scored a pole position?”
The last time Corvette Racing was able to lock down an IMSA championship was in the 2013, the final year of competition for the previous-generation C6.R. The C7.R is an obvious improvement over the C6.R, yet the team has been unable experience the same degree of success due to BOP regulations.
“In terms of improving the Corvette, yes the C7.R was a very big step,” Fehan said. “The drivers really like the way the car handles, it’s far more responsive to change and we have a much wider range of changes we can apply to the car which directly affect how it performs on the race track. It’s a much more nimble car, it’s stiffer, it’s just much better.
“But the last two years the performance rules have definitely not done us any favors.”
The C7.R has received a number of changes and upgrades in the off-season, most of which were implemented in order to adhere to changes in the rulebook. A roof-mounted escape hatch has been installed, which has required changes to the rollcage, and IMSA has permitted aerodynamic changes to ensure the GTLM cars remain quicker than the new GT3-spec cars that will be fielded in GTD next year.
“Yeah, this is to try and build a reasonable performance differential between the GT3 cars they’ll have in the GT Daytona class next year, and our GTLM cars,” said Fehan. “It’s been mainly to do with the aero package. IMSA has increased the length of the front splitter, altered the width of the side splitters by the rocker panels, and we’ve moved the rear wing up and back a little.”
“That had knock-on effects for truly optimizing the car’s performance, but the C7.R is a good enough platform that the same basic set-up will remain on the car. And it will run the same powerplant and same gearbox.”