Corvette Racing’s 2016 GTE challenger is set to make its on-track debut next month at the mandatory FIA Balance of Performance tests in France.
The second-generation Corvette C7.R, which conforms to the safety and performance standards laid out in the new-for-2016 regulations, is nearing completion of its build at Pratt & Miller.
A total of two new chassis are in production, according to program manager Doug Fehan.
“We’re very, very close to having that first chassis done,” Fehan told Sportscar365. “We’ll be doing some shakedown runs on it shortly. We’ll then pack it up and ship it off to Ladoux.”
However, given the time and budgetary constraints, Fehan is expecting the car to only undertake systems checks, potentially at GM’s proving grounds in Milford, Mich., prior to it being air-freighted to France.
Despite the new Ford GT having racked up considerable testing mileage across North America and the Ferrari 488 GTB having recently begun its development program in Italy, Fehan isn’t concerned by the lack of track time for the car prior to the BoP test.
“That would be a logical concern and I don’t think anybody’s happy with the amount of testing they do for anything at any time,” he said. “The reality is that the car is not wildly different from our current car.
“It has the safety improvements built into it and it has some small aero changes on it and that’s about it. We’re not overly concerned about it.
“Would we like to have more [testing before the BoP test]? Sure. But that’s both time and money.
“Neither one of those things are in abundance at what we’re working on. So we have to be very prudent about how we spend both.”
Fehan said there are no major changes to 2016-spec Corvette, which is built to a new rollcage to accommodate the mandatory driver escape hatch.
While the Ford GT features dramatic styling modifications to the road car in the rear, Fehan said there are only subtle changes to the new C7.R’s aero to make it conform to the FIA’s new performance windows.
“The Ford has the advantage of designing a race car and then rolling it over into a street car,” he said. “We’re selling 35,000 units a year; we don’t have that same concept.
“That’s very flattering that they would do that, when you look at what’s required to go out and dethrone what we’ve earned. I’m really flattered they have to go out and do that.
“But that aside, when you look at the [new Corvette C7.R], there would be no real discernible difference.
“If you just glanced at it, you would’t see anything. It looks the same. There’s nothing dramatically new, or dramatically radical and certainly nothing that resembles the Ford.”
Fehan, however has praised the Blue Oval’s arrival into the GTE/GT Le Mans ranks with its factory effort, while also applauding the FIA and ACO for the latest evolution in regulations.
“I think the Le Mans regulations are great,” he said. “We’ve worked real hard as manufacturers to develop them. I think it’s providing a wonderful foundation for moving forward.”
While the BoP test at Michelin’s high speed test track in Ladoux on Sept. 15-20 will lock in each car’s homologation, Fehan is in support of the BoP process.
“It does a couple of things,” he said. “Number one: It gives them a better base for which they can build a Balance of Performance because there’s not a lot of changes.
“Number two, it controls the costs. You don’t have to worry about making huge modifications.
“I think it’s great for the sport. The reasons that series are successful are because the rules are stable.”