Sunday, February 12, 2023

Corvette Racing 2022 -- Looking Back and Forward

There are no bigger fans of Corvette Racing than the Fantastic Foursome (Shirley, Don, Nan, and me).

Well . . . . Charley Robertson is a bigger fan than us, but we are right behind her!

Since the 2023 IMSA racing season has begun (last weekend), now is a good time to look back on the 2022 season.

Recall that in the prior eight years (2014 - 2021) Corvette racing had finished 1st or 2nd every year except 2015.  We enjoyed a "three-peat" in 2016, 2017, and 2018, and back-to-back 1st place finishes in 2020 and 2021.  You might say that we were spoiled. It was great fun going to the race track, hanging out in the Corvette Corral, getting driver autographs, and enjoying the Corvette and Chevrolet displays.

Here we are with Doug Fehan in 2021.  Those are the smiles we wore to all the Corvette events.

I'm not exactly sure what happened in 2022, but people started messing with the rules.  GTLM, where Corvettes had been so successful, was replaced in 2022 with something called GT Daytona Pro (GTD Pro) using GT3 machinery. Since Corvette didn't have any GT3 cars on the market, the C8.R was allowed to run in the GTD Pro class using a GTD "kit". I have no idea what that is.

The table below shows how that plan worked out -- not so well!

If you look at the race-by-race breakdown, you might get depressed.  See below.

As reported last year on this Blog, the Fantastic Foursome attended the Daytona race in January 2022 -- the first race of the 2022 season. Out of a field of 13 cars, the Corvettes finished 6th and 10th.  The Corvettes were not competitive, losing more than a second each lap -- which puts you way behind in a 24 hour race. 

Fantastic Foursome at the 24 Hours of Daytona 

Daytona was the only race with two Corvette entries for that year. The next race was Sebring and the #3 Corvette finished 1st, restoring our faith in the team. 

Next up was the race at Long Beach, California -- the closest race to our home -- so we drove our Corvettes up to Long Beach to watch.  Again the Corvette was really doing well until the "wheel nut fiasco" which precluded the Corvette from a second 1st place finish.  But we were enthused.

Fantastic Foursome at Long Beach

Our joy was short-lived, as the highest finish for the remainder of the season was 2nd (two times).  On the positive side, Corvette enjoyed five podiums out of ten races.  

Going into the final race of the season at Road Atlanta, Corvette was second in points just ahead of the Lexus entry and behind the eventual season winning Porsche.  Finishing ahead of the Lexus would have given Corvette a 2nd place season -- not too bad. Instead the Vasser Sullivan team (Lexus) won the race outright, pushing themselves into 2nd place and the Corvette, that finished 5th, into 3rd.  

What has gone wrong here?  If you look at last year's 10 races you will find that in many events a number of GTD cars have finished higher than any GTD Pro car.  Sorry, this just doesn't make any sense to me.

How will the 2023 season go?

Corvette Racing returned to the GTD Pro class at the 24 Hours of Daytona on January 28, 2023 with familiar faces in the driver's seat -- Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Tommy Milner.  The Corvette was competitive this year, holding the lead after four hours and performing well for the entire 24 hour race.  They finished 2nd behind the Mercedes AMG GT3, and ahead of the Lexus RC F GT3.  So, maybe 2023 will be an improvement over last year.  Time will tell.

And everything will change completely next year as Corvette will be fielding a GT3 spec car run by independent teams for the first time.  Here is a website to tell you all about next season's car:

Corvette Z06 GT3.R

We are hopeful that this new platform and the driver rules will get us as excited about Corvette racing as we were a few years ago!  The car sure looks cool!

Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R Is A Legit Race Car You Can Buy -

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