Defending race winners Corvette Racing has reverted to a spare chassis for this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, following fire damage sustained to its No. 4 Corvette C7.R at the Roar Before the 24.
Marcel Fassler escaped uninjured in the blaze, sparked by a fuel line failure, but with the car needing some extra attention, the Pratt & Miller-run squad opted to put its backup car into action.
“We brought the car back, and the damage was not all that great,” Corvette Racing Program Manager Doug Fehan told Sportscar365.
“The firewall in the car is a composite firewall, but the fireproofing around that area worked really, really well. But it needs to be replaced.
“When we looked at the timeframe between the Roar and what we have here, it just made a tremendous amount of sense to get the spare car up and running, to enter it here so we could take our time doing a proper repair on the original chassis.
“As soon as we get it back up and running, why we’ll get it back in competition. It was very nice having a spare car ready to go.”
Fehan said the backup car, initially built for last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, will likely be used for Daytona-only before going back to the primary car, once repaired.
“It was really no big deal,” he said. “Not a hump. “The guys at the shop are the ones that are repairing the old chassis so it really had no time or effort impact on what we’re doing here.”
The cause of the fire, meanwhile, has been traced to a fuel line failure, in what Fehan describes as a “harmonic-related issue” related to a new component that was on the car at the Roar.
With the team having reverted to the previous component, Fehan doesn’t expect any issues in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener.
“We want to institute a new-style [fuel] pump but it runs a little different routing which caused us to build a hand-fabricated part, and that was the part that failed,” he explained.
“Although it worked perfectly on the dynamometer and we validated it in a 60-hour run, the harmonics in a race car when you get on the race track… So we’ve gone back to our old-style pumps.
“We should be fine for this race, but planning for the future it’s imperative that we can find a solution we can use.”
Fassler and 2016 GT Le Mans class champions Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner are seeking Corvette Racing’s third straight class win at Daytona and the trio’s second in a row after their photo finish triumph last year.