Corvette Racing was “very pleased” with the public debut of its new Chevrolet Corvette C8.R at the Roar Before the Rolex 24, according to program manager Doug Fehan.
The first-ever mid-engine Corvette racer ran without issues in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship pre-season test which was held over three days at Daytona.
During the Roar, the No. 3 Corvette completed a total of 161 laps while the No. 4 chalked up 180 laps over seven test sessions and one 15-minute qualifying run.
The cumulative total of 341 laps compared to the two BMW M8 GTEs turning 349 laps and the two new Porsche 911 RSR-19s combining for 358 laps.
Fehan told Sportscar365 that his team primarily focused on achieving reliability with the new package ahead of its race debut in the Rolex 24 later this month.
“You have to manage your expectations,” he said.
“We’ve been through this process many times before, so we have a very detailed and progressive plan on how we learn about the car and how it responds to changes.
“Only time can get you there: you just have to turn a bunch of laps.
“But in order to do that, you have to have a car that’s reasonably durable and somewhat reliable. That’s a part of that learning process as well.
“We’ve been very pleased with our time here simply because we haven’t had any durability issues. All in all, I couldn’t be more pleased with the progress that we’ve made.”
Corvette Racing team manager Ben Johnson explained that testing at Daytona before Christmas helped ensure that the Roar sessions went to plan.
“This test maybe wasn’t as smooth [as the November run] but it was our first with the race cars rather than our test car,” he said.
“You just get through the things that you learn the first time you run a car.
“We still got a lot of good track time there, but it set us up for using this time to be up there with our competitors and not have those issues.
“[There are] no major issues in the car that we’re biting our nails to go back and look at, which is great news. It allows us to focus on all the little things that you have to get right.
“At this level of motorsports, it comes down to the pit stops and not spending time in the garage for silly issues. We have a page of items that we want to address, but they’re all things that we can knock off quickly.
“We’re just making sure that we get seatbelts, bungees and those sorts of things correct.”
Milner: New Challenge Keeping Crew Alert
Tommy Milner, who will share the No. 4 car with Oliver Gavin, believes the team is relishing the chance to develop a new car off the back of the now-retired Corvette C7.R.
General Motors’ previous GTLM car ran for six seasons, starting in 2014, but Milner agreed that its development reached a plateau in the final campaign last year.
“As a driver, there’s a lot of fun in that environment of something all-new, working with the engineers to fine-tune something that starts as a raw animal,” he told Sportscar365.
“You have to train it and yourself to get the most out of it. I think part of that excitement comes from the fact that you get the most out of the previous car and there’s not a whole lot more to go from the engineering side.
“Some boredom gets built in because you end up at a setup that you don’t really stray from too much. With the new car, there’s a whole world of options that we can try to make it better.
“It’s fun for the engineers and it’s fun for us to work with them, going through that process of trying new things and seeing what works and doesn’t work.”
Milner also praised the behind-the-wheel experience of the Corvette.
“Driveability wise, it’s been a lot of fun so far,” he added.
“[There was] not a huge transition from front-engine rear-drive to mid-engine rear-drive, but certainly it’s a whole new experience.
“It’s been fun learning about that and finding ways to make this one better than the previous generation.”
John Dagys contributed to this report