The future of GM’s Corvette Racing program is cloudy once again with the decision by the corporation to shelve its mid-engine Le Mans “Evo” platform. The C7R (conceptualized above by Automobile Magazine) was expected to be the first American manufactured race car in 44 years to compete for the overall win at Le Mans, the world’s most prestigious endurance race. The move last month by ACO, the Le Mans rule-makers to backtrack on plans to launch the Evo class leaves Corvette Racing without a ride after the 2010 racing season, and my oh my what an awesome ride that would have been.
Back in 2007, new rules were adopted for Le Mans starting in 2010 that would have combined the GT1 and LMP1 into the “Evo” class. The Evo racers would have featured cars designed with closed cockpits in a move to emphasize more of the relationship between the racy road cars and their production siblings instead of the open cockpit formula styled cars currently running in the LMP1 class. However current LMP1 contestants including Audi and Peugeot complained loud and hard about the rule changes to the point that the ACO rules committee will allow them to continue in their current configuration, albeit modified to reduce overall top speeds, for years to come.
As usual, there are conflicting stories and finger-pointing as to the status of the Evo program with Sweet Pete De Lorenzo of AutoExtremist.com saying that the class is very much on and that the “brain trust” at GM was halting the program because a mid-engined Corvette wouldn’t have a direct connection to the production Corvette. His “rant” against GM’s preference for NASCAR above all other forms of racing is a great read for those of us who prefer the road racing efforts epitomized by the success of Corvette. GM’s road-racing program director Steve Wesoloksi said the Evo program has only been suspended due to the questionable regulations surrounding the revised Le Mans classes. And while cost concerns were a factor, he does say the door is open to resuming the Evo program should the class move forward.
Corvette Racing has essentially been racing itself the last two years because of these pending rule changes. With the Evo racer shelved and no competition likely in the GT1 class, a move down to the GT2 class is now looking more certain. GM’s contract with Pratt & Miller runs through 2010 so its likely we’ll see the team racing the familiar C6.Rs for at least the near future.
Wesoloski also said the FIA, Europe’s counterpart to the ALMS, and the ACO are working with GM, Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin to produce a single GT class based more on the specifications of production cars, which would allow the companies to compete head-to-head. So despite the loss of the Evo Corvette, another Corvette-based racer is likely to be on the horizon to take on the best the world has to offer.
Bondurant School of High Performance Driving