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Corvette Facing Tight Logistics Window For Shanghai

Corvette Racing faces a “daunting” logistical challenge ahead of its maiden race in China…

Photo: John Dagys

Corvette Racing team manager Ben Johnson says the team’s FIA World Endurance Championship appearance at Shanghai in November poses a “daunting” logistical challenge.

A single Chevrolet Corvette C7.R will be added to the GTE-Pro entry for the six-hour race, boosting the number of manufacturers in the category to six.

It will mark the Pratt & Miller-run squad’s first race outing in Asia and its second time competing in the series outside the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the last time coming at the Six Hours of COTA in 2014 (pictured above).

Johnson explained that the team will need to have its entry fully organized this month to meet the operational deadlines imposed by the WEC.

Corvette has yet to determine which of its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship cars will be freighted to Shanghai, while a driver lineup is also yet to be announced.

“We only have a couple [of] weeks just because we have to submit paperwork to shipping and the WEC,” Johnson told Sportscar365. “So it actually comes up pretty quick. November seems a long way away based on how far we are in the IMSA season.

“But if we don’t have it all figured out in the next four weeks we’re going to be pretty far behind.

“It’s daunting thinking that you’re going to have to come off Petit Le Mans [October 13] and get everything you need and put it to the far side of the world.

“It’s completely different to anything else we’ve done before. I think everyone just puts the being anxious aside. It’s exciting to get it done.”

Johnson said that the resources the team won’t need for the Motul Petit Le Mans will be sea freighted to China before the IMSA season finale, while the rest, including the car,  will be air freighted afterwards.

He explained the team is likely to send a combination of its two IMSA crews to Shanghai.

“It’s probably a mix of both crews, who’s available and what is the right group of people to bring to make sure that we have all the skill sets there that we need,” said Johnson.

“In France [for Le Mans] you have people we know who are close and we can lean on for things. In China, it’s not there.

“We want to make sure that anyone that has a specific knowledge base on the car is there. We’re taking more crew than we normally would, just to make sure that we’re covered.”

The Shanghai car will be fitted with a Redline livery to promote the launch of Chevrolet’s special edition range in the country last November.

China is General Motors’ second-largest consumer market with more than four million models being sold there in 2017.

Johnson said they plan to pull together members of the company who have experience in China to help the operation run smoothly.

“We have contacts at GM China now, obviously from not being in their backyard, but we have support personnel within the team that have done the race in Shanghai with WEC,” he said.

“So they at least have the lay of the land there and what’s required.

“We’re calling on people from other groups within Pratt & Miller that are Chinese citizens who understand some of it.

“Anything we can get our heads up on our legs up on at this point, we’re doing the best to get. 

“The big step right now from a team operational side is making sure that we get there in a way that we can be competitive.”

Johnson added that it’s not yet been decided if a Corvette will appear in the 1,000-mile WEC race at Sebring next March, which takes place on the same weekend as the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours WeatherTech Championship race.

While it’s been heavily rumored the team will field its third car in the event, Johnson said they’ll “do whatever we’re asked to do” by Chevrolet.

John Dagys contributed to this report.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

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