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Topic: CORVETTE RACING AT QATAR: Positive Steps Forward

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CORVETTE RACING AT QATAR: Positive Steps Forward (1/1)
 2/27/24 1:20pm
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Press Release

CORVETTE RACING AT QATAR: Positive Steps Forward

TF Sport completes FIA WEC testing ahead of Qatar opener for Z06 GT3.R

LUSAIL, Qatar (Feb. 27, 2024) – TF Sport and Corvette Racing put the wraps on two days of testing Tuesday at Lusail International Circuit ahead of this weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship opener in Qatar.

The three test sessions served as a dress rehearsal for the debut of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R in the globe-trotting championship, starting with Saturday’s Qatar Airways Qatar 1812 Km.

Daniel Juncadella set the best time for the two-car TF Sport team in the No. 82 Corvette that he will share throughout the season with Hiroshi Koizumi and Sébastien Baud. The Corvette factory driver’s top lap was a 1:54.691 (105.695 mph) effort that put the No. 82 Z06 GT3.R fifth in the new LMGT3 category.

Across the garage, fellow Corvette factory driver Charlie Eastwood set the pace in the No. 81 Corvette Z06 GT3.R with a best lap of 1:55.369 (105.074 mph) to put both TF Sport Corvettes well within a second of the fastest Prologue time in class. Eastwood is teaming with Tom Van Rompuy and Rui Andrade for the full year.

The TF Sport effort is the first customer program in FIA WEC for Corvette Racing, which has four wins in the series to its credit – including last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans – in addition to the 2023 GTE Am Drivers and Teams titles with the Corvette C8.R.

The Corvette Z06 GT3.R is a completely new car from the ground up and is Chevrolet’s first car built to global GT3 regulations. It’s based on the production Corvette Z06 supercar with the two sharing a significant amount of DNA. 

The racecar is built on the same production aluminum chassis frame – from Chevrolet’s Bowling Green (Ky.) Assembly plant – as the road-going Z06. Similar carbon-fiber splitters for front downforce, and the surface area from the top of the windshield to the rear of the Z06 remained intact on the Z06 GT3.R. That includes side air ducts behind the doors — directly inspired by Z06 production road car — that help to cool the engine, transaxle and rear brakes.

The similarities carry over to the hand-built 5.5L, flat-plane crankshaft V8 engine in the Z06 GT3.R. Both originate from the Bowling Green factory with the racing version sharing 80 percent of the production content from the Z06, including the crankshaft, connecting rods, cylinder heads, fuel injectors, coils, gaskets and a variety of other sensors.

The Qatar Airways Qatar 1812 Km is scheduled for 11 a.m. Arabian Standard Time / 3 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, March 2.  MotorTrend will provide both live television coverage in the U.S. Streaming coverage of the race and Friday’s qualifying will be available on MAX, MotorTrend Plus and the FIA WEC TV app.

CHARLIE EASTWOOD, NO. 81 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “We got a lot of laps in. There were just so many unknowns going into this week. We had one test day as a team with the Z06 GT3.R, which went very well at Dubai. But now we are at a brand new track and one that’s very different than Dubai. But from the very first session, we were pleasantly surprised to be in a very good window. From then, we ran through all the drivers, and both Rui and Tom have been building up. There are still so many unknowns. But as a team and car crew, I feel we are looking quite strong.”

DANIEL JUNCADELLA, NO. 82 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “Honestly this was very good and very positive. We had three trouble-free sessions with a lot of mileage on our Corvette. It might have been the most mileage of all the LMGT3 cars. That’s really encouraging for everyone here. All three drivers had enough laps and we’re all happy to have gone through the program. I’m very happy with how things feel. Seb was very fast and likes the car a lot. Hiroshi is a very positive surprise. He is very consistent with no mistakes and very few track limits. He is doing it the right way. It’s very good and we will take that into the weekend.”

TOM VAN ROMPUY, NO. 81 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “These test days were quite positive. We have a strong car and a strong package. With traffic management, we have to pay attention to other cars but I think we are strong there too. On tire degradation, I think we have one of the better cars in LMGT3. So yes, I’m very positive as we look ahead to the race weekend.”

RUI ANDRADE, NO. 81 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “The delays left everyone in a little bit of anticipation, but the car feels great. It already felt great in Dubai. The balance is strong, I think. The combination of TF Sport and Pratt Miller is doing a great job at the moment. They gave us a good car right at the start, which is always important so you don’t feel lost from the get-go. We had some solid running yesterday. We had an issue when I accidently set off the fire extinguisher so we lost some laps! It’s a new car for me and these things happen. Today we went through the run plan with no issues and got lots of laps with good feedback on the car. We had some cool running Monday late afternoon into the night and it was very warm this morning. So getting a read on the car in these conditions is really important. In traffic and with the Hypercars, there is a big speed delta so they have to get through the GT traffic as fast as possible, which means we are bullied a little bit. For us, we have to focus on our driving and also focus on our mirrors and rear-view camera. Whoever does that best will be fastest. But I feel good. We are getting better and have a good base. We feel strong but will see where we are on Saturday.”

HIROSHI KOIMUZI, NO. 82 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “Monday was a good feeling. Today was a little better feeling. There was more traffic in the last two sessions but I still had a good feeling. The Corvette is a very good car. I am happy with my teammates. Dani is a very fast driver as our No. 1 and Sébastien is fast. I’m very lucky to have them!”

SÉBASTIEN BAUD, NO. 82 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “I am very happy. It was my first Prologue, my first with the team, my first weekend with Corvette and my first time at this track. The car is really great. The work between myself, Dani and Hiro was very good. We had no issues and now we can try some different setups and strategies for qualifying and the race. It’s very comfortable in this Z06 GT3.R. The driving is very different than previous cars I have driven. Confidence for the race and qualifying is high because Hiro was very good during his qualifying sim. This is all very good for the race. There is a lot of confidence and consistency in this car, and there are still things we can work on and try. No issues and everything looks fine for the race weekend.”

CHRISTIE BAGNE, CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R PROGRAM MANAGER: “Everyone at TF Sport and Corvette Customer Support should be proud of the efforts during the Prologue. Both Corvettes completed a high number of laps, which led to a lot of productive running on track. The feedback from the drivers is positive. Operationally, things went well as the team continues to learn more about the Z06 GT3.R heading into practice and qualifying. All in all, we all are happy with the last two days.”

Ryan Smith
Judy Dominick

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