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New Corvette C8.R Is Ready To Roar In Daytona

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, January 3 2020
The all-new Corvette C8.R will be on the Daytona International Speedway road course this weekend for the Roar Before the 24 test sessions. (Photo by Richard Prince/Chevrolet)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Corvette Racing’s mid-engine C8.R will record its first public hot laps during this weekend’s Roar Before the 24, a three-day dress rehearsal for IMSA’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The 2020 WeatherTech Sports Car Championship will be Corvette Racing’s 22nd of production-based competition but first with General Motors’ mid-engine entry. The ground-breaking C8.R made its public debut in October and will race for the first time in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

America’s premier twice-around-the-clock endurance sports car race is set for Jan. 25-26 at Daytona International Speedway.

Corvette Racing will chase IMSA’s GT Le Mans (GTLM) Championship in 2020.The C8.R is the fifth racing version Corvette has fielded since its first season in 1999. Corvette Racing’s record since that Rolex 24 debut is unmatched _107 victories, 13 IMSA Team Championships and 12 Manufacturer and Driver titles. Corvette Racing is a three-time winner of the Rolex 24 _ in 2001 with the Corvette C5.R and back-to-back in 2015-16 with the C7.R.

Beginning Friday and continuing through Sunday, the Roar will provide teams with more than seven hours of track time around DIS’ 3.56-mile/eight-turn road-course that includes portions of the high-banked/2.5-mile oval. All six Corvette Racing drivers are scheduled to log seat time in the C8.R.

The No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette C8.R featuring the team’s signature yellow livery will be shared by season-long teammates Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor along with newcomer Nicky Catsburg. The silver No. 4 Corvette will see Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner paired for the ninth consecutive season, along with the return of Marcel Fassler.

“There is a lot to discover and develop,” Garcia said in a team news release. “Usually your starting point is better than what you previously had. But this is completely different. We are still in the early stages with this new Corvette. There will be big steps for sure. I don’t know when we will get to the point where we will start making little steps. We need to run this car and we need to race it to find out where we are against our competition. We are concentrating on our own work. Whenever it becomes race time, we will know where we actually are.”

The C8.R is based on the foundation of the 2020 Corvette Stingray, with both developed simultaneously. The level of technology transfer between the race car and production Corvette runs deep. As a result, the C8.R shares the highest percentage of parts between the production and race car than any previous generation.

As many miles you can put on the (race) car is optimal,” Taylor said. “The C8.R is obviously still very new, so reliability is always the first question. The Corvette Racing guys have done an unbelievable job designing and developing it. Pace will come eventually, but it already feels like a very solid and competitive car. As many laps as we can get at the Roar and going through the program, getting all the drivers on the same page from a setup point of view and then the little things like pit stops and driver changes will be different than what we’ve had in the past.

“The car is a little more tricky to get in and out. Understanding that muscle memory of the process of getting in and out, where the seatbelts go, where the drinks bottle is, where the air hose goes… those little details that we haven’t refined that were refined with the C7.R are things that will show up in a 24-hour event, so those are things we will need to check off the list at the Roar.”

The Roar will be Catsburg’s first real-time experience in the C8.R. “I honestly can’t wait to do my first laps in it,” Catsburg said. “The experience in the Chevrolet Simulator provided valuable insight into what I can expect with the C8.R. That should help with getting used to the car on the track. For me, it’s a brand new car, a new team and two new teammates. But it will be a great challenge, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Initial design and development on the Corvette C8.R _ again, with Corvette Racing engineers working alongside Corvette production personnel _ began more than five years ago with track testing starting within the last 18 months. Heavy emphasis on wind tunnel and simulation aided in the testing program with that work culminating in a two-day November test at Daytona that gave Corvette Racing a final checklist for items ahead of the Roar and the Rolex.

“The team is going to have a very structured plan,” Gavin said. “And that’s one of the things that’s so good about Corvette Racing. We plan our time and fundamentally understand what all we have to work through and the list of things we need to achieve. The third drivers will need time in the car. We’ll all have to work through that program and procedure as best we can.

“Certainly we’ll learn a huge amount every time we go on track just with how certain tires work, how the braking package works, the aero setup, weight placement… all kinds of different thoughts that the team will look to work through. We know that of that list of 50 things we want to try and achieve, the chances are that if we can come away with 60 or 70 percent of that done, it’s a pretty big win.”

Milner said he has enjoyed the offseason challenge of dissecting the new car and helping Chevrolet engineers understand all the new parts and pieces. “There are some aspects where we have no input but others where we have a great deal,” Milner said. “It’s exciting having raced the C7.R for its full generation and now to start something new. I’m excited for what this car has to offer and see how it races.”

Fassler, like Catsburg, is anticipating his first laps in the C8.R. “When I was a child, I remember how exciting it was to open my first Christmas present. That’s what this is like,” Fassler said. “The C8.R is a really fantastic looking car with a promising competitive look. I’m proud to be a part of this team and honored to team again with Olly, Tommy and everyone at Corvette Racing.”

Live timing and scoring from the Roar Before the 24 will be available at IMSA.com.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, January 3 2020
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