Why the 2014 Chevy Corvette C7.R Matters: Sure, the 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray just won the North American Car of the Year Award, and the new Z06 will be the most capable production Corvette to ever hit the marketplace, but the new car’s competition cred has yet to be established. And for that role, there’s the 2014 Chevy Corvette C7.R racecar, which recently joined the Z06 for a dual debut at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
It’s good timing, as the on-track rivalry between Team Corvette and both the SRT Viper and Porsche 911 is in for some major attention during the upcoming motorsports season. All three cars will be racing in the same class in the 2014 United SportsCar Championship (USCC) season, with the first race, the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, scheduled to get the green flag on January 25. From there, the 2014 Chevy Corvette C7.R will go on to campaign 11 races in the USCC, as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans in Paris in June.
But with Team Corvette having captured class victory at Le Mans seven times—and added 10 American Le Mans manufacturer championships and more than 90 series wins since 1999—there’s a lot riding on the 2014 Chevy Corvette C7.R.
Luckily, the racecar itself is riding on something notable, too: The same underpinnings as the brand-new 2015 Chevy Corvette Z06.
It may sound a bit confusing, so here’s Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports for GM: “When it comes to endurance racing, Corvette has been the benchmark of success for nearly 15 years. A great deal of the team’s success can be attributed to the symbiotic relationship between Corvette Racing and the production vehicles. The 2015 Corvette Z06 and new C7.R will be more competitive on the street and track due to successful design of the Corvette Stingray—which itself is heavily based on the C6.R race car.”
What’s New for the 2014 Chevy Corvette C7.R
Basing the new 2014 Chevy Corvette C7.R on the next-gen Z06 allowed engineers to ensure that drivers of the former would benefit from all of the aerodynamics and weight-saving advances of the latter. For example, the 2015 Corvette Z06 sets the template with a package that provides more downforce than any other production car ever tested in GM’s wind tunnel, while the 2014 Chevy Corvette C7.R is “closing in on the aero performance of a dedicated race car,” according Corvette’s long-time chief engineer, Tadge Jeuchter.
Also new is the weight-saving aluminum frame that also supports the new Stingray and Z06 models. It’s nearly 100 lbs. lighter than the steel-based frame of the previous-generation Corvette, yet the structure is 40 percent stronger than the frame of the C6.R. The results were immediate and impressive.
“In the first lap in the C7.R, the drivers felt the increase in chassis stiffness,” said Mark Kent, director of Racing for Chevrolet. “The drivers instantly noticed that the C7.R handling was better over changing surface features and rough track segments. This is important as our drivers don’t always stay on the smooth pavement, and are constantly driving over curbing at corner apexes.”
New 2014 Chevy Corvette C7.R: Styling and Design
The flip side of the enhanced aerodynamics of the 2014 Chevy Corvette C7.R is its comprehensive body kit, gaining its inspiration from both the C6.R (a forward-tilted radiator, functional venting for the hood and front-quarter panels, and intakes to cool off the transmission and differential) and the Z06 (like its front splitter, rocker panels and brake-cooling ducts).
Other form-follows-function enhancements to the shape of the 2014 Chevy Corvette C7.R include a large rear wing and front radiator.
Wrapping it up: A new livery that adds more contrast to last year's look.
New 2014 Chevy Corvette C7.R: What’s Under the Hood
Despite all the commonalities between the 2014 Chevy Corvette C7.R and the 2015 Z06, racing rules do require a divergence when it comes to driving motivation. So, instead of the all-new supercharged 6.2-liter V8 found in the production car, the racing version will retain its championship-winning powertrain from the 2013 motorsports season, but with one key change: direct injection.
“Direct injection offers two advantages for the race team,” said Kent. “First, it offers drivers more precise throttle control, so that even the smallest changes in the driver’s throttle position delivers a proportional response from the engine. Second, direct injection typically improves fuel economy about 3 percent. That could be enough to bypass one fuel stop during a 24-hour race. Given that races are often won and lost in the pits, a 3 percent gain in fuel economy could translate to a significant advantage in track position.”
New 2014 Chevy Corvette C7.R: What Autobytel Thinks
If the new-found success of the 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray—and the past success of Team Corvette—are any indications, you can expect plenty of future success for the 2014 Chevy Corvette C7.R.