Corvette Racing will soon complete the construction of a new Corvette C8.R racer that will be used first at the IMSA race at Road America in early August before being flown to France where it will serve as the team’s backup car for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
That news comes from team manager Marc Maurini of the Pratt & Miller squad who spoke with sportscar365.com about its Le Mans plans.
Currently, the Yellow No. 63 Corvette that was raced in April at the FIA World Endurance Championship at Spa-Francorchamps is still in Europe and it will soon be joined by the current Number 4 C8.R raced by Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner last weekend in Detroit, where it will be spec’d to FIA regulations and renumbered as the No. 64 C8.R.
Maurini says the new chassis was planned for the off-season but was moved up following the changes to Le Mans schedule which was moved from its traditional mid-June running to August 21-22nd.
“Everything’s been compressed,” Maurini tells SportsCar365.com. “We’ve had a little bit of a break here so we’ve been able to get a lot done. A lot of components are 16-week lead times to machine and manufacture. We made the decision pretty early on, as soon as the [new] Le Mans date was announced. We already had the chassis physically constructed and that’s when we decided to start building it into a complete car.”
The Corvettes are set to race at the WeatherTech Championship’s IMSA Sportscar Weekend at Road America on Sunday, August 8th, and the team is actually scheduled to be in Le Mans by Wednesday at 6pm local time for the load-in at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
“For us, logistically we have to complete the Road America race, get whatever equipment and chassis we need over to Europe,” Maurini says and then adds, “Typically we’d fly into London Heathrow, air freight them in there and then drive them across. Now with the UK not being part of the EU, we’re likely going to be going straight to France. But with limitations on flights for COVID, that whole process takes about five days. We cannot do that with our current cars.”
The new Number 4 C8.R is set to fly to France via air freight the day after competing at Road America, but Maurini says the planned backup chassis will not arrive until after the test day.
With the changes in logistics also comes changes in strategy.
“We used to be able to just air freight everything over and now it’s so expensive to air freight things,” said Maurini. “For instance, [instead of] air-freighting a set of wheels, we’re buying new wheels and having them shipped directly from BBS to Germany.”
The good news is that even in the age of COVID, Corvette Racing is well-practiced in its preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“It looks like France is starting to open up so hopefully when we get there we can have some fans and not have too many logistic issues.”
Technically, this will be the 5th C8.R chassis overall when counting the team’s original test car.