The Corvette Z06 GT3.R won’t make its competition debut until early 2024, but a demanding test schedule will see the customer race car hit the track for early shakedown tests later this year.
In a recent interview with RACER, GM Sports Car Racing Program Manager Laura Wontrop Klauser said the automaker recently completed its final wind tunnel tests for the new Corvette Z06 GT3.R and will hit the track in September for the first on-track tests.
“We’re going to be doing all the design – I think we just finished up our last scale wind tunnel tests, so we’re moving along. But when the car hits the ground here in September, we have a very rigorous test schedule,” she explained. “The idea is to figure out, where are the weak spots? How can we improve it before we homologate it? So when it’s done and homologated, it’s done – it’s ready to go into a customer’s hands, to allow them to take it and race it and be comfortable with it.”
The Corvette Z06 GT3.R will be available for purchase by third-party customer race teams. This stands in contrast to the Corvette C8.R that Chevy races currently, which is not available for teams to buy and is only fielded by the factory-backed Corvette Racing squad. The majority of Corvette’s rivals already have their own customer GT3 race cars for purchase, including Porsche, Mercedes-AMG, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Acura and McLaren.
As the Corvette Z06 GT3.R will be available for any eligible race team to buy, this may call into question the need for a factory-backed team like Corvette Racing. Wontrop Klauser said GM has yet to make a decision on Corvette Racing’s future, although GM sees value in having a factory-backed GT3 team on the grid in North America – especially early on in the program’s life. The factory team could lend a helping hand to the customer teams, she explained, which could provide more value to the GT3 program as a whole.
“Our thought was that it would be an advantage for a customer coming behind where they can get the playbook that the Corvette Racing factory team is using,” she said. “So there’s a lot of benefit there and that’s one of the reasons that we like the idea of having it, but we need to work through understanding where the right fit is and how we can make sure that it is a great asset to the program and to our customers.”
Corvette Racing currently fields a sole, modified version of its GTE-spec Corvette C8.R in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship’s GT3-spec GTD Pro class. It also fields a single, non-modified GTE-spec Corvette C8.R in the FIA World Endurance Championship. These two racing programs are likely to continue in 2023 before the Corvette Z06 GT3.R arrives at the beginning of 2024.