Photo Credit: Richard Prince
This Saturday is the final race of the 2009 American Le Mans series and for Corvette Racing, it will be the last opportunity for testing and evaluating the new GT2 Corvettes during actual combat conditions. The factory-backed Corvettes have used the final five races to test the GT2 C6.R Corvettes ahead of a full-bore assault on the unified GT Championship in 2010.
By all accounts the testing of the GT2 Corvettes has been successful. In the four races run by the new Corvette C6.Rs, the team finished first at Mosport, second at Mid-Ohio, third at Road America and ran much of the rain-soaked race at Petit Le Mans first and second before dropping to 4th when the race was called.
“By any standard, it’s clear that Corvette Racing’s GT2 development plan has been successful,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “It’s not only our results on the race track â€“ although that is certainly important â€“ but the fact that at each successive event we’ve learned more about the GT2 Corvette C6.R race cars. They have been more consistent, quicker, and more competitive. That is exactly what we would have expected if we’d conducted a test program in private.”
Despite the fact that the team looks at this weekend’s race at Monterey’s Laguna Seca as another test session, it’s an important test as the raceway doesn’t host private track testing. So the team’s only chance to acquire data on how the GT2 Corvettes handle the sandy track conditions comes Saturday.
“Laguna Seca is something of a mystery for us, as it is for many teams,” Fehan explained. “The track surface can vary greatly from day to day, so there is always a question of grip. We’ve engineered more mechanical grip into the GT2 Corvette than in any previous Corvette race car, so we’re very eager to see whether that proves to be an advantage. This race will be our only opportunity to test at Laguna Seca before we return next year in earnest, so it is important to gather as much data as possible.”
Team manager Gary Pratt sees tires as a key to success at Laguna Seca. “Laguna has traditionally been a low-grip track, and I expect it to be the same this year,” he said. “The lack of grip there was a problem for us until we partnered with Michelin. Michelin has always brought tires that suit the track, and that could be an advantage for us in a four-hour race. Most of the corners are medium-speed, with hard braking in Turn 11 before the pit straight. Consequently Laguna Seca is a momentum track where the drivers need to carry their speed through the corners. I think the GT2 Corvettes will do that very well.
“We’ve been able to find a good balance with the GT2 Corvette’s aero package so it is not as ‘edgy’ as the GT1 car,” Pratt continued. “This makes the GT2 Corvette more predictable and the drivers more confident in traffic. We’ve always been a little anxious about running in wet conditions, but the GT2 Corvette has proven to be very good in the rain with its wide track and good balance. The drivers like it, and I’m not so hesitant about practicing on a wet track.”
Corvette Racing closes out 2009 at the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The four-hour race is scheduled to start at 2:45 PM PDT on Saturday, October 10. SPEED will broadcast the race tape-delayed on Sunday, October 11, at 2:30 p.m. EDT.
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Laguna Seca |