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  Chevrolet Corvette C6 Z06 GT2

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Country of origin:United States
Produced in:2007
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:July 09, 2007
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Click here to download printer friendly versionOver the last few years, the big GT1 class at Le Mans and in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) has been dominated by the Works Corvettes. The Pratt & Miller run team first entered highly modified 'Vettes of the C5 model, replaced in 2005 by the sixth generation. The meticulously prepared machines are very quick and equally reliable and serve as the benchmark for every new GT1 car. In 2006, the range of racing Corvettes was further expanded with a GT3 version. To be eligible for this new class only minimal modifications were allowed and these were carried through by private teams, rather than the factory backed Pratt & Miller.

For the third time in as many years, a new racing version of the C6 model Corvette hit the track in 2007. Prepared by Markland Racing, this new C6 was built to GT2 specifications. It is quite an unusual move for a class dominated in recent years by Porsche and Ferrari; even more so because these highly competitive German and Italian racers are readily available. The Danes opted not to take the easy route and instead build a custom racing car from the ground up. Powered by a 505 bhp V8 and using plenty of exotic metals and composites, the Z06 Corvette is most certainly not the worst machine to base a racer on.

Not surprisingly the GT2 class fits right between GT1 and GT3, and allows for a quite a few more changes than the latter. Immediately after Markland received a complete Z06 road car, they began stripping it down to the bare chassis. Only the essential bits were fitted again and complemented by the mandatory safety equipment like a roll cage. Other than the modest rear wing and the front splitter there is little to distinguish the GT2 racer from the road car from the outside. The stock look and feel is underlined by the fact that the hood still uses hinges, instead of a quick release system. To comply with the regulations, the LS7 is equipped with restrictors, which cuts the power to 480 bhp. It is mated to a six speed sequential gearbox.

Leaving nothing to chance, the Danish team have hired two professional drivers; Kurt Thiim and Thorkild Thyrring. They will be joined by Markland's founder Henrik Moller Sorensen, who has honed his skills by racing quite successfully in Denmark the last few years. The project really gathered pace when Markland Racing was invited to run in the 2007 Le Mans Series, which could pave the way for a 24 Hours of Le Mans entry in 2008. All the hard work was tested for the first time at the Official Le Mans Series test at Paul Ricard at the end of March. The test showed the team was on the right way, but that more work was still required make the Z06 reliable and to get it competitive.

There really was little time to apply the lessons learned at Paul Ricard before the season opener at Monza. The Danish team were never quite on the pace and suffered from overheating problems, to the extend that pieces of the car started to melt. The main objective of the weekend was to get a good enough result to qualify for the next round of the Series at Valencia, where the number of GT2 cars would be limited due to the lack of garages. Sadly the car lasted just one hour and became the fourth retirement in the race. This meant the team was not invited for the next round, but also gave them a lot more time to fix the problems.

These two and a half months were spent well and at the Nürburgring, the yellow and black Corvette sported many detail changes. The cooling extensively revised, dropping operating temperatures from 120 to 80 degrees celsius. The hot running engine was replaced and the virtually stock exhausts were replaced by more purposeful side-exhausts. In the practice sessions, all these efforts looked in vain, but in qualifying the team put in a lap that was six seconds faster than their previous best. Unfortunately the race showed that the reliability still wasn't completely there yet as the car suddenly stopped on track and could not continue.

It looks like the brave privateer effort is moving in the right direction, although the process might have been more speedy if they had opted to cooperate with Corvette racing experts Pratt & Miller. At the Nürburgring, the drivers mainly complained about the lack of traction control, which could make the American brute a little easier to control. Once the car is fully developed, it will also be offered to third parties to race.

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  Article Image gallery (30) Specifications