Why yes, we would like this new Chevrolet Corvette GT3.R racer

By ramieza, 31 January 2023

Why yes, we would like this new Chevrolet Corvette GT3.R racer

This is the Chevrolet Corvette GT3.R. It’s a fully fledged GT3 racer, built by sports car stalwarts Chevrolet and endurance racing experts Pratt Miller Engineering, and will make its competition debut at next year’s Daytona 24 Hour. It’s also rather safe to say that it’s a Corvette we covet.

But then we rather would, given that it’s a racing car, which is invariably excellent regardless of whether the car it’s based on is a Trabant or a Tramontana. Extra points go to the ’Vette GT3.R for its mid-engined, full-aluminium chassis – with extra lashings of aluminium, Kevlar and carbon-fibre in ways many would find superior to, say, the recycled Communist cotton of an old Trabbi.

Also putting the Vette in seriously good stead is the fact that the mid-mounted engine in question is, in fact, a small-block Chevy V8 (the LT6, in case you were curious) that can make a very large amount of power. How much power the GT3.R makes precisely is a touch harder to pin down at the moment, because a) that amount is dictated by the whole Balance of Performance thing, so it’s unlikely to be finalised yet, b) it’s a Chevy V8, which is generally a case of ‘how much power would Sir care for?’, and c) Chevrolet wouldn’t tell us.

But, much like the magazines you find at the supermarket checkout, that won’t stop us from speculating until we arrive at something that resembles an answer.

So let’s start with what we know: the GT3.R’s engine is based on the 5.5-litre, flat-plane V8 from the Corvette Z06. It apparently shares about 70 per cent of its parts with the regular production engine (good grief, is ‘regular’ doing some heavy lifting there), including that flat-plane crankshaft, as well as the cylinder heads, conrods, injectors, coils, gasket and so on.

In the Z06, it makes a faintly titanic 670bhp, to which Chevrolet helpfully acknowledges that it’s “pumping out more horsepower than the race car". The racer in question is the current C8.R, and the GTD class that the GT3.R will run in at Daytona 2024 is different to the GTE Pro class (we know, it’s about as straightforward as string theory) of the C8.R in 2023... so somewhere around 600bhp might be a good enough guess before we end up like Charlie in the mailroom in that episode of It’s Always Sunny.

So, to Pratt Miller Engineering, then. Since it first teamed up with GM, it’s taken class honours at Le Mans eight times, won the Daytona 24 Hour outright in 2001 and contributed to Chevrolet’s NASCAR dominance – unless an undefeated run from 2003 to 2015 can be called anything else. Pick your metaphor – tip of the iceberg, icing on the cake – this is just a small taste of a long list of racing victories.

OK, so what? Race car built by gigantic company and racing outfit goes fast. Not a lot in it for the rest of us, right?

Well, about that. We can’t say it’s for every last one of us, but the GT3.R will be for more than ever before – Chevrolet Racing is changing tack for 2024, setting up “a complete customer support program that will be available to teams running the Z06 GT3.R”. That means trucks full of spare parts and bodywork, assistance with chassis setup, data analysis and all the works and jerks inherent in running a race team.

And not to put too fine a point on things, but the concept of being a customer racer, flitting around the world from circuit to circuit while Chevrolet schleps the parts, is the kind of Corvette experience we covet.