The 62nd annual Rolex 24 at Daytona is set to get under way this Saturday, marking an important moment for GM’s motorsport efforts. Not only is Cadillac Racing sitting in pole position in the GTP class, but the event will also serve as the competition debut for the Corvette Z06 GT3.R. Following the success of the C8.R in the GTE AM class over the last several years, the new GT3-spec Corvette Z06 has some rather lofty expectations to shoulder.
The Corvette Z06 GT3.R follows the retirement of the Corvette C8.R and discontinuation of the GTE class in the World Endurance Championship, with the new Z06 GT3.R debuting after two years of development under GM’s Competition Motorsports Engineering division and Pratt Miller Engineering.
“Our relationship between the constructor and GM is primarily on the powertrain side,” says Pratt Miller motorsports technical director Ben Johnson, per a report from motorsport.com. “But with a greater user base of the car and worldwide adoption of the car by multiple teams, we wanted to make sure to take advantage of that relationship as much as possible to take any learnings that they had from NASCAR, IndyCar, prototype racing and our long history at Corvette.”
The motorsport.com report notes that while the previous C8.R was designed with compromises in user-friendliness, such is not the case with the Corvette Z06 GT3.R, which will serve not only factory-level pro teams, but also customer teams with varying budgets and service resources.
Additionally, the new GT3 rules allow for greater levels of downforce, and to that end, the Corvette Z06 GT3.R is equipped with a new rear wing and diffuser. The Z06 racer was also designed to run on a variety of different tires, as compared to the Michelin-exclusive C8.R. The engine uses 70 percent of the same components as the naturally aspirated 5.5L V8 LT6 that motivates the road-going Z06, producing 500 horsepower, per regulations, while the street-legal variant is rated at 670 horsepower.
Four examples of the Corvette Z06 GT3.R will be on track at Daytona this weekend. Look for the green flag to fly at 1:40 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 27th.