GM to Focus on Customer Support
After an extended 25-year involvement with the motorsport sector, the full manufacturing division of Corvette Racing will be finishing its story. General Motors is making the decision to cancel their factory-funded motor racing activities and refocus on providing assistance for customers in the years ahead.
GM’s Motorsport Competition Engineering Director Mark Stielow, in an exclusive interview with Sportscar365, attested to the impressive success of the company. With eight victors at the renowned Le Mans 24-hour contest, in addition to 14 manufacturer trophies and 120 successful races, it is clear that GM is a formidable force in the automotive industry.
The engineering director has reportedly stated that Corvette Racing will discontinue its operations by 2023, although the squad will still provide customer teams with their acclaimed Corvette Z06 GT3.R – a track-only adaptation of the iconic Corvette Z06 engineered in accordance with FIA guidelines for GT3 vehicles.
“We’re transitioning into the GT3 platform, so we’ll be able to offer a real customer program,” Stielow informed. “We’re in the process of making this happen.”
“My team was eager to construct a multitude of vehicles; however, I wanted to ensure the launch was of top-notch quality, even if it meant advancing slowly.”
The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R is driven by an identical 5.5-liter LT6 V8 engine as its version suitable for regular roads, said to generate approximately 500 to 600 horsepower. Upgrades on components such as aerodynamics, brakes, suspension and wheels have been executed in order to provide teams with a motor vehicle ready for racing.
GM plans to have a fleet of eight cars in the next calendar year – four intended for the entire IMSA schedule and two offered for WEC’s upcoming LMGT3 class, scheduled to officially supersede the GTE group from 2024.
“It’ll be a big shift,” said Stielow, “but at least we’ll get to see more Corvettes on track around the world now that the full factory operation has been discontinued.”
“As we transition to a customer-oriented model, it’s going to be different,” said Stielow when discussing the changes the Corvette marketing team will be making following the move to a customer program. “Our counterparts in the Corvette marketing side… they don’t like change.”
“I’m optimistic about the future of Corvette racing,” said John Smith, a long-time fan of the sport. “I think it’s going to be good because we’ll have more high-level Corvettes competing in more events.” He continued, “It’s always exciting to see these powerful cars on the track.”
The Corvette Squad intends to close out in great style at the forthcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans, commemorating its centenary event this year. Alongside its associate, the Camaro ZL1, the next-generation NASCAR version will race under Garage 56.