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Above: the Corvette team practices pit stops at the short, 1.54-mile, Lime Rock Park circuit where quick stops are key, since you lose a lap whenever you pit.
Above: Right: a crew member carefully adjusts the Corvette’s massive brakes.
Above: the C6-R cockpit may look cramped, but the designers made great efforts to create a comfortable environment for drivers.
Above: The Corvette C6-R goes through tech inspection before the big race.
Above: Race officals make sure the car complies with the rules that the ALMS shares with the Le Mans-governing ACO.

One of the highest profile teams in ALMS is the Corvette Racing Team, which competes in GT1. It is not just the bright yellow “Compuware” paint job on the two Corvette C5-Rs that helps them stand out; the team’s consistent excellence has allowed it to dominate the GT1 class for several seasons. Corvette Racing, which is operated by Pratt & Miller, has been part of ALMS since its inception in 1999. The team’s achievements are impressive: 42 wins, 32 1-2 finishes, three drivers’ championships and four manufacturers’ championships. The team went undefeated in 2004 with nine ALMS victories, and it captured the two top podium spots at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was the first time in the history of the series that one team won every race in any class. They have so reinvigorated the production class that the GT1 now threatens to overshadow even the two prototype classes in popularity.

After six years of successfully campaigning the C5-R, Corvette Racing entered 2005 with its first new car—the C6-R (Corvette sixth-generation Racing). The years of experience with the C5-R played a key role in the design of the C6-R. General Motors says its new sports car is its “most technologically advanced ever,” which it needed to be, given the standard the C5-R set. The C6-R is no cosmetic upgrade; it’s a clean-sheet redesign. The chassis is built using the same hydroformed frame rails as are used on the street C6. Compared with the C5, its shorter overall, but the wheelbase is longer. That translates into improved handling and stability at high speed for both street and race C6s. The new racer has a better lift-to-drag ratio than the outgoing car. It’s better balanced aerodynamically and is more tunable for various types of track. Under the hood growls an all new V-8 engine based on the new for ’05 LS2 street engine. Changes from the street version are significant: it was bored and stroked from 6.0L to 7.0L, and it includes a dry-sump lubrication system, CNC-ported cylinder heads, titanium valves and connecting rods, a forged-steel crankshaft and plate-honed cylinder bores—all to take it from its 400 street horsepower to about 650hp on the track—and that’s using the ALMS-mandated restrictors. Unrestricted, it would be capable of 100 to 150hp more.

With the 2005 ALMS season more than half over, it is clear that the crew at Pratt & Miller have a proven winner in the C6-R. They are on pace for yet another driver and manufacturer championship. In seven out of eight races, Corvettes have finished 1-2, including in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This ups their record to four 1-2 victories in the last five Le Mans events. The Corvette Racing Team shows no signs of letting up, and though some respected names appear to be gearing up to take a run at the GT1 title, the Corvette team’s organization has set an impressive standard to shoot for. We’ll be watching, and if you’re a fan of great sports car competition, you should, too!

We at Die Cast X thank Corvette Racing for the extraordinary cooperation and access they granted us. Special thanks to Olivier Beretta, Doug Fehan, Ron Fellows, Oliver Gavin and Johnny O’Connell for all of their help. Thanks guys!

Sitting down with Team Corvette »

Updated: June 30, 2011 — 11:23 AM
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