In the non-racing world, particularly in Europe, Chevrolet’s Corvette has often times been branded as being a ‘wannabe’ sports car. The handling has been described as being spotty, and the interior quality has long been complained about as being below par. One can not deny the fact, however, that in the racing world, Corvette has established themselves as one of the most successful and dominant racing teams to ever have entered into the sports car racing world. And with the campaign of the C7 Stingray finally getting underway, people are beginning to buzz on what the new C7.R will look like, sound like, and perform like.
In 2012, the Corvette celebrated the 60th year of Corvette, coinciding with the unveiling of the newest generation of Corvette. The 2012 season also marked the 14th year of Corvette Racing’s participation in international sports car racing. Those 14 years of competition include seven wins at Le Mans and a record-setting 73 class wins in the American Le Mans Series, guaranteeing them the title of the most successful racing team in the history of the racing series.
So with this C7.R, what can we expect to see of the car? Most likely, the picture on the left is what the car will probably end up looking like. The yellow and black, yellow jacket-like paint styles will presumably end up remaining the same. Examine the C6.R closely, and you will notice that there is not much of a difference between the world-class GT race car and the road-going C6 sports car. So don’t expect for the C7 that you saw rolling onto the center of the stage at the Detroit revealing to look very different from the C7.R that will (hopefully) be tearing up the street and purpose-built racing circuits across the globe. Just understand that the car doesn’t come in red — or any other color, at that.
The next question that must be asked is almost as important as what it looks like. What is the new C7.R going to sound like? As race fans, we’ve all grown accustomed to immediately recognizing a C6.R at Le Mans when the loud, brutal exhaust note ricochets off the trees on the Mulsanne Straight. Well, have no fear, as due to the fact that an American-made (‘Murica) V8 engine is still the beating heart of this extraordinary machine, the infamous exhaust noise will likely be too close to the sound of the current C6.R to be recognized as being different. However, in order to stay safe, keep your fingers crossed just to remain reassured that the C7.R’s engine will sound the same as the C6.R.
In the real world, the world that replaces the worlds twisty, curbed race tracks with twisty back roads, power is (usually) the answer to anything and all things that relates to performance. In the racing world, however, low-weight is the key to success. So, with that being said, what can we expect of the C7.R in regards to performance? Let’s start with power first, shall we? Considering that the Corvette C6 punches out a relatively hefty 400 horsepower (at 6,000 rpm) and the C6.R racing version produces an even heftier 491 horsepower (at 5,8000 rpm), and also that the ALMS limits the GT class to 500 horsepower, don’t expect to see the 100 horsepower jump seen with the C6 to the C6.R. Instead, a 50 horsepower jump is much more likely to be in order.
With the ALMS setting the minimum weight to 2,745 pounds, and the C6.R tipping the scales at that same weight — 434 pounds lighter than the C6 Coupe, the C7.R will undoubtedly practice the lightweight ritual. Most likely, the C7.R will be pulled down to the weight of the current C6.R, as that is the bare minimum weight that the ALMS allows teams to achieve. This low-weight, high-power combination should make quite the impressive power-to-weight ratio, providing the Corvette Racing Team with the astonishing acceleration that we’ve all grown used to over the years.
The final question to be asked is more or less important to the team, and team’s die-hard supporters. In the ALMS and other forms of international competition, how will the C7.R perform against the likes of 458s and RSRs? With an impeccable amount of victories in the ALMS series and at Le Mans, success is an expectation of Corvette Racing. In my personal belief, it may take a year for the Corvette Racing Team to perform with the C7.R as they did with they C6.R. Why? While the Corvette Racing Team is probably one of the best racing teams in the world, and arguably of all time, it will take a bit for the engineers and the drivers to get a hang of the new car. No car feels alike, and with all the changes made to the C7, the feeling could be remarkably different. However we’ll find out more when the car begins it’s testing stages. While the first year with the new racer may be a bit of a rocky start, the team should be able to secure at least one win in it’s first year of ALMS competition.
With all the hype surrounding the C7, it will certainly be interesting to see what the racing version of the new Corvette is capable of. It’s unsure of when exactly we will see the C7.R hit the tracks, fingers crossed for a 2014 debut at Sebring for the 12-hour race. Questions on the car are already circulating and, while for now we are only able to live with renderings of the new car, the car certainly looks good. Hopefully, the real version of the C7.R won’t look much different from the images you’ve seen here, as this car could very well end up being one of the best-looking cars on the circuit. With all the pedigree that the Corvette Racing Team has when it comes to sports car racing, the C7 certainly has some big shoes to fill. So yeah, I guess you could say that the pressure is on.