Photo Credit: Motor Trend
If you’re like most Corvette enthusiasts, your chest puffed out when the new Z06 ran the second fastest Lightning Lap ever in Car and Driver’s competition.
But then that huge smile likely turned into sobs of disappointment when the same Z06 did not even finish (coming in dead last, obviously) in the Motor Trend Best Driver’s Car competition a few weeks later.
How could Chevy let such a thing happen, you may have asked yourself.
The short answer is that yes, the cars are checked by Chevy as much as possible before such important testing, but two things managed to escape detection that were just plain ol’ human foul-ups. Hey, stuff happens. We’re all human, after all, even Corvette’s seemingly infallible engineers.
During Car and Driver’s testing, the Z06 ran off the track and hit a tire wall, causing just cosmetic damage that was quickly repaired enough to make the car track-worthy enough to run that second fastest ever Lightning Lap.
With the Motor Trend competition coming up right after that, Chevy had to tear the car down, replace broken parts, and make it like-new again in a short time, Tadge reports.
But with the pressure of that deadline looming, they somehow missed two important problems.
“We always replace brake pads before delivering a car, but this was missed,” Tadge says. “I can’t remember this ever happening before, but it did. We have since changed our pre-test check procedure so this can never happen again.”
Chevy’s on-site engineer noticed the worn linings, which were immediately replaced and burnished the day before Randy Pobst ran the Z06 on track.
A second oversight, however, wasn’t caught, and unfortunately, it was a big one.
[quote_box_center]“The second unfortunate occurrence related to the intercooler circuit. One of our pre-loan checks is to bleed the intercooler circuit to make sure there is no air in it. Some customer complaints about overheating Z06s have been traced to improperly bled intercoolers. The technician doing the work plugged in the electrical connector for the intercooler pump and it seemed to seat and ‘click’ into position, but the secondary latching mechanism did not fully lock into position leading to intermittent operation. Without the pump running there is no coolant flow, no intake charge cooling and the engine pulls spark to protect itself.” [/quote_box_center]
That’s what happened to Motor Trend during the Best Driver’s Car competition.
Why did it show up then and not when Chevy had the car. Well, Tadge says the connector was seated enough that the pump and engine worked just fine in all pre-testing done before the car was sent across the country to Motor Trend in California.
Since there was suddenly a lot of spark retard when Motor Trend was running the car, Chevy thought maybe bad fuel was responsible.
The real cause, though, didn’t show up until the car had returned to the Milford Proving Grounds after the test. Chevy has now changed its procedure to run the pump remotely during the bleed process to avoid a recurrence of this issue, Tadge says.
But this was just one inning in a long ballgame, and that’s good news for Corvette enthusiasts.
“Bottom line is that like any team we have good days and we have bad days,” Tadge admitted. “We showed well at Car and Driver Lightning Lap and stumbled at Motor Trend. We engineers and technicians on the team are even more disappointed than any in the Corvette community. We are reviewing our prep processes, which loans we prioritize and even the size of our media fleet.”
The best news from Tadge: “We will get better. We will live to fight another day. Motor Trend is planning another test at Laguna Seca in a few months with some very, very capable competitors. We intend to be ready.”
We have no doubts.
As a reminder, here is the video of the Motor Trend’s Corvette Z06 test at Laguna Seca:
[VIDEO] Corvette Z06 Wins Motor Trend’s Greatest Drag Race 5
[VIDEO] Corvette Z06 Breaks During Motor Trend’s Best Driver’s Car Test
2015 Corvette Z06 Dominates at Car and Driver’s Lightning Lap