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Corvette Racing Recap: Daytona’s Rolex 24 Delivers Disappointing Results

Corvsport digs into Corvette Racing's first run at Daytona...what they learned and what's next

The #4 from Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports/Image Credit: Richard Prince via Corvette Blogger

All eyes have been on the Corvette Racing program this year, as the shift from factory-backed to factory-supported racing sent ripples through the community. It may just seem like semantics, and here is how Mark Stielow, GM’s motorsport competition engineering director, described it during last year’s announcement:

We’re not going to have a fully factory-funded Corvette race program, but we’re going to have a pool of Corvette drivers [that will race with customer teams].  We’re going to support different teams to a degree but it’s not going to be like Cadillac, which is a fully funded factory effort.

Two IMSA teams were birthed by this shift: Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports (racing in GTD PRO) and AWA (racing in GTD). In the midst of this transition to factory-supported racing came the worldwide debut of a brand new race car, the remarkable Z06 GT3.R, which was hoping to make a statement in its thrilling IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut at the legendary Rolex 24 At Daytona.

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Pratt Miller’s No. 3/Photo Credit: Richard Prince for Corvette Racing

Now, the results, then some half-glass-full remarks.

♦ GTD PRO

  • On a positive, both Corvettes from the Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports team completed the full 24 hours. The No. 3 of Antonio Garcia, Alexander Sims, and Daniel Juncadella led the way with a fifth-place finish, and the trio led 118 laps on Saturday and Sunday. The No. 4 Z06 GT3.R of Tommy Milner, Nicky Catsburg, and Earl Bamber led 38 additional laps.
  • Unfortunately, both of the Pratt Miller Corvettes experienced separate mechanical issues. The No. 3 had a cracked oil tank, and the No. 4 had to replace a power steering pump within the final six hours.

♦ GTD

  • Regrettably, AWA decided to withdraw the No. 13 Corvette due to another power steering issue, as well as the No. 17 Corvette (electrical reasons were cited). Both withdrawals occurred in the last quarter of the event. It’s reported that AWA and Chevrolet Competition Engineering will work together to determine the main causes of this disappointing result, and (hopefully) address them ahead of the next race at Sebring. Chevrolet “thanked the AWA team for its hard work and collaboration leading up to and during the Rolex 24.”
The No. 13 from AWA

Some Positive Takeaways:

  • One of the four Corvettes placed in the top 5 after a grueling 24-hour race!
  • The LT6.R engine performed flawlessly (pic below).
  • The No. 3 and No. 4 Z06 GT3.Rs from Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports combined to lead 118 of 773 laps, in an entralling GTD PRO battle.
  • The new Z06 GT3.R displayed admirable performance in a deep GT field (which had 36 entries from 11 manufacturers).
  • Despite both race cars retiring, the first Corvette Z06 GT3.R customer team AWA logged a considerable number of laps and miles in its first race with the Corvette brand.
Photo credit: Next Level Performance

What’s next for Corvette Racing?

The next race for the Corvette Z06 GT3.R is the Qatar 1812 Kilometers, which opens the FIA World Endurance Championship on Saturday, March 2. TF Sport will field two of the Corvette GT3 racecars for the full season. Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports and AWA will next compete at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday, March 16.

Comments from the Drivers:

ANTONIO GARCIA/ALEXANDER SIMS, NO. 3 OSHKOSH/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R – FINISHED FIFTH IN GTD PRO:

“This is always a tough race, and this one was flat-out. The Rolex 24 is hard on equipment, and unfortunately we had our one issue. It is always great to be in the hunt and put pressure on our competitors so they may make mistakes. It’s a shame, for sure. I would have loved to be in contention late with the new Corvette. We learned a lot that we can use to push the Z06 GT3.R forward. We will use all those lessons to improve for the next race Sebring. It’s a classic event for us and we’ll definitely try to go for the win there.”

TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 OSHKOSH/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R – FINISHED EIGHTH IN GTD PRO:

“Overall I’m proud of our effort today and what we showed with this new Corvette Z06 GT3.R. The pace was good and the balance was good. I think all of us as drivers were happy. Unfortunately for us, we had one main item that set us back and cost us time. But this is a new car and we’ve never seen that problem in testing. That’s why these 24-hour races in some ways feel like sprint races. This is a great learning opportunity for us, as well. There are things we will find and be better for the rest of the year. Realistically when you look at all the cars in the GT classes today, I don’t think anyone had a clean run. It shows how hard everyone was pushing, especially us. So yes, it’s somewhat disappointing because both cars led and were in the top-three for most of the race. These require perfection from everybody. Our race wasn’t perfect, but it was close. We can be proud of that.”

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