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Topic: CORVETTE RACING AT QATAR: Prologue to the Corvette GT3 Era

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CORVETTE RACING AT QATAR: Prologue to the Corvette GT3 Era (1/1)
 2/20/24 8:03pm
cor123
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CORVETTE RACING AT QATAR: Prologue to the Corvette GT3 Era

TF Sport set to give Corvette Z06 GT3.R its debut in FIA WEC testing and first race

 
DETROIT (Feb. 20, 2024) – The new Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R is set for its second debut – this time in the hands of TF Sport at the FIA World Endurance Championship’s opening event for 2024.


For the first time, the Corvette brand and the FIA WEC field will visit Lusail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar. The Qatar Airways Qatar 1812 Km – in reference to Qatar Day, observed on December 18 and commemorating the country’s unification – also marks the first event in the World Endurance Championship for the Corvette GT3 racecar following its competition debut last month in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.


TF Sport is set to campaign the No. 81 and No. 82 Corvette Z06 GT3.Rs in the WEC’s LM GT3 class for the full season. The squad – led by team owner Tom Ferrier – is a perennial contender in a number of GT series around the world and will field Corvettes for the first time in 2024. 


Following three days of testing last week in Dubai – Monday and Tuesday working on general and procedural items due to flooding rains with one full day of running Thursday – the TF Sport Corvettes will take part this weekend in the FIA WEC Prologue. It’s two days of testing at Qatar ahead of official free practice, qualifying and the race from February 29-March 2.


Two first-year Corvette factory drivers will spearhead the lineups in each Z06 GT3.R. Charlie Eastwood – a familiar face within the TF Sport garage – leads the No. 81 Z06 GT3.R with Rui Andrade and Tom Van Rompuy joining for the full season. In the sister No. 82 Corvette, Daniel Juncadella will embark on his first season in the FIA WEC alongside Sébastien Baud and Hiroshi Koizumi.


Both Corvettes and all six drivers will contest the full eight-race calendar, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June – a race that the Corvette brand won nine times with the Corvette Racing factory team from 2001-2023.


Four of the Corvette Z06 GT3.Rs raced at the Rolex 24, and members of the Corvette Customer Support team flew directly afterward to TF Sport’s shop in the UK to help with car prep and final installations ahead of the Dubai test.


Corvette Racing engineers also conducted an intensive review process following Daytona to focus on operational reliability and optimizing areas of improvement with the findings relayed to TF Sport ahead of Qatar.


The Corvette Z06 GT3.R 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 original 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 FIA WEC Prologue is set for Saturday and Sunday on the 3.34-mile, 16-turn Lusail International Circuit. The Qatar 1812 Km is scheduled for 11 a.m. Arabian Standard Time / 3 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, March 2.  MotorTrend and MotorTrend Plus will provide both live television and streaming coverage of the race and Friday’s qualifying, as will the FIA WEC app. Radio Le Mans will stream audio coverage of the race plus Friday’s final practice and qualifying. 

TF SPORT PRE-EVENT DRIVER QUOTES

CHARLIE EASTWOOD, NO. 81 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “We finally got to drive the Z06 GT3.R last Thursday at Dubai. To be honest, it was very good to have three days with the car just to get through all the procedural stuff because this is a brand new car for everybody. On that Monday and Tuesday, we still got through a lot of things… media things, all our seat fits and some general procedures. The team has been used to being with Aston Martin before, and for everyone this is a new challenge with how this car works from the pit stops and everything else. So we were able to get some efficient use out of those couple of days. After last week, I think everyone feels significantly more prepared than we would have if we just tested on the Monday and Tuesday. The test went very well. Even in the short span of time from Daytona, it was a massive step forward from Corvette and Pratt Miller with the car. The test went flawlessly, and all the drivers got up to speed super quick. They all loved it, so it was a really good test in general. Now we’re all ready to go for Qatar.”


DANI JUNCADELLA, NO. 82 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “I couldn’t really turn any laps at the test in Dubai because of the weather, but my teammates did get a day Thursday, which is very positive. The main thing is that they get comfortable with the car. Anything I can do as the pro driver to help my teammates go faster is going to be better for our overall results. That is my main focus. They luckily got a day Thursday, and I heard everything went well in getting their first kilometers in the Corvette. We didn’t have any setbacks, which is great for our reliability. We took some knowledge from the setbacks we had at Daytona, which is positive. All in all with the limited mileage in the Corvette for the team, I think we are well-prepared. It will be my first experience in WEC, and that’s pretty exciting to say the least. We are going in with a lot of motivation and hopefully we can build on a good starting base after a good Daytona weekend for me as a Corvette driver.”


CHRISTIE BAGNE, CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R PROGRAM MANAGER: “This is an event that we have been looking forward to since we revealed the Corvette Z06 GT3.R in 2023. We’re extremely happy and proud of the effort that TF Sport and our Corvette Customer Support team have put in to get these two Corvettes ready for the Prologue and the first race of the season. Collaboration is the biggest key to success, in our eyes, and we have that in our relationship with Tom Ferrier and his team. We wish them the best of luck.”


CORVETTE RACING BY THE NUMBERS: Qatar 1812 Kilometers

• 2: Number of Corvettes entered in the full FIA WEC championship for the first time – the No. 81 and No. 82 Z06 GT3.Rs from TF Sport

• 3: Number of GTE Am wins a year ago for Corvette Racing in the FIA WEC for the No. 33 Corvette C8.R

• 7: Wins in FIA WEC competition for TF Sport – including the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans; current TF and Corvette factory driver Charlie Eastwood was part of that triumph

• 14: Drivers who have driven in entries affiliated with Corvette Racing for at least one FIA WEC race – Nicky Catsburg, Marcel Fässler, Antonio Garcia, Oliver Gavin, Ben Keating, Jan Magnussen, Tommy Milner, Mike Rockenfeller, Alexander Sims, Nick Tandy, Jordan Taylor, Ricky Taylor, Nico Varrone and Richard Westbrook. That number will go up by six in Qatar

• 27: Tracks at which Corvette Racing has won races – Baltimore, Charlotte Motor Speedway, COTA, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park/Mosport, Daytona, Detroit, Houston, Laguna Seca, Le Mans, Lime Rock, Long Beach, Miami, Mid-Ohio, Monza, Portimão, Portland, Road America, Road Atlanta, Sebring, Sonoma, St. Petersburg, Texas, Trois Rivieres, Utah, VIR, Washington DC and Watkins Glen

• 41: Number of drivers for Corvette Racing since 1999. GM factory drivers Earl Bamber, Dani Juncadella, Alex Lynn and Charlie Eastwood joined the list at Daytona, as did AWA’s Matt Bell, Orey Fidani, Lars Kern, Anthony Mantella and Thomas Merrill

• 71: Years since Corvette was introduced to the world on Jan. 17, 1953 in New York City. A total of 300 cars were produced that year

• 127: Victories worldwide for Corvette Racing – 115 in North America, nine at Le Mans and three in the FIA WEC

• 285: Event starts by Corvette Racing since 1999

• 101,857: Total number of racing laps completed by Corvette Racing entries since 1999. The program went over the 100,00-lap mark at the Rolex 24 of Daytona

• 370,025.44: Total number of racing miles completed by Corvette Racing entries since 1999. To put that in perspective, Corvette Racing is more than halfway to the distance traveled by Apollo 13 – the longest manned spaceflight in history: 622,268 miles


Ryan Smith
Judy Kouba Dominick
Photo by TF Sport



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