As you know, recent sightings of a camouflaged C7 Corvette with a mighty large wing have been making their way around the interwebs for the last few weeks. Many are claiming that it’s a 2018 Corvette ZR1 that will be offered as a swan song to the C7 program in advance of a mid-engine C8 Corvette that will launch in 2019.
But after we saw just how big that rear wing is when mounted on the car, we came to conclusion that Chevrolet is working on a dedicated track-only Corvette like the C6 2011 Corvette Z06X Track Car Concept presented at the 2010 SEMA show. We even offered 10 reasons why we think a track car is on the way.
While we were out last week for our annual pilgrimage to Corvettes at Carlisle, more spy photos of the C7 Prototype were captured and this time they show the car in remarkable clarity compared to the shots captured from over a mile away. These photos were presented by MotorAuthority and as they are bought and paid for, jump on over and take a look at the four new prototype spy photos. We’ll be here when you get back.
Now, it could be that there are two cars in development with a C7 ZR1 street car and a track-only Z06X as a couple of readers have suggested. But until we hear or see differently, we are nearly certain that wing suggests a factory track-only race car.
Remember that the current C7 Corvette Z06 generated more downforce in GM’s wind tunnels than have ever been recorded by any production car. The Z06 Corvette’s aerodynamics are so strong that the top speed of the Corvette Z06 is officially rated at 185 MPH, 20 MPH less than the C7 ZR1 which was able to hit 205 MPH. It’s clear that the aggressive spoiler and wickerbill on the C7 Z06 which makes the car stick to the track like glue on a race track also hampers the cars ability to go as fast as the C6 ZR1. So why the huge spoiler on a street car if GM was indeed looking to build a faster C7?
Since our original “10 Reasons Why…” article last week, we’ve come up with reasons #11 and #12 on why this could be a factory built track only Corvette. Reason #1 in our previous post was that Corvette Product Manager Harlan Charles wants to do one and said so publicly. Now we found a comment by his wingman, Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter that is somewhat similar:
Last year on the Corvette Forum, there was a Ask Tadge question “What would Corvette do if they had an extra $100M to spend on the program”. After a couple of paragraphs of Tadge explaining that no one just gives him $100 million to build a car, Tadge said: (emphasis mine)
So if I was asked how to improve the Corvette with an extra $100M in the budget, what would I do? Probably increase customization, make more models catering to individuals preferences. We could expand the bandwidth on the performance end by producing more hard-core cars and track-only models. On the luxury end, we could have more unique interior options – both aesthetic and functional. Of course all this would come at a price… We would have to pay back that hundred mil somehow.
That question was answered in April 2015. Since then, GM has announced over $729 million in new investments in the Corvette program: $439 Million for new Corvette Paint Shop (May 2015) and $290 Million for plant upgrades and assembly processes (June 2016). It could also be argued that the first part of Tadge’s answer relates to the 2017 Corvette Grand Sport which offers two new models (base and Z07) and over 360 ways to customize the exterior. And the second part about expanding the bandwidth on performance is what we are looking at in the spy shots: a factory built track-only Corvette racer.
Reason #12 this is a factory built race car as we attempt to connect the dots has to do with IMSA and the future direction of the racing series. IMSA announced during its “State of Sport” presentation at Road America that they will allow race cars from mainstream automotive manufacturers homologated as GT4 cars. Check out this from Autoweek Magazine:
Beginning in 2017, IMSA will allow race cars from mainstream automotive manufacturers homologated as GT4 cars by the Stephane Ratel Organization (SRO) to compete in the series’ top Grand Sport (GS) class alongside select “grandfathered” vehicles built to IMSA GS technical regulations that are currently racing in the class.
At the start of the 2018 season, all GS category cars will be built and strictly adhere to GT4 technical regulations with the requirement that they are from a mainstream automotive manufacturer. A number of manufacturers are currently developing new GT4 race cars that will roll out gradually before the start of 2018. The Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport is already competing win the GS class, with its primary competition being the Ford Shelby Mustang GT350R-C. Recently, BMW announced plans for a GT4 car to be available in time for the 2018 season, and a number of other manufacturers are considering GT4 platforms as well.
With GT4 cars coming from Porsche, BMW and Ford, it sounds like this would be a perfect venue for a privateer team who wanted to run Corvettes. Now all that is needed is a GT4 Corvette with a naturally-aspirated LT7 V8!
MotorAuthority.com. Spy photo by S. Baldauf/SB-Medien.
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