Corvette Racing and its new Corvette C7.R race cars are about to undergo the ultimate challenge in road racing. The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is America’s oldest sports car race, and the 62nd running of the Florida classic is set for this weekend. It’s also an event that is rich with Chevrolet and Corvette history.
You could say that Sebring is the spiritual birthplace of the modern-day Corvette Racing program. A Corvette raced for the first time in its history at the 1956 Sebring 12 Hours and placed ninth overall. Almost 60 years later, Corvette Racing will go for its ninth class win at Sebring since 2002 – this time with the brand new Corvette C7.R. The production-based racer is Chevrolet’s entry in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
“Sebring is one of the toughest race tracks in the world,” said Mark Kent, Chevrolet’s Director of Racing. “Corvette Racing’s success in the 12 Hours is a testament to the preparation and work ethic of the team at Chevrolet Racing, Pratt & Miller and GM Powertrain. Winning Sebring once is an incredible accomplishment, and doing so eight times is nothing short of remarkable. We are confident the new Corvette C7.R – with its improved handling, stability and efficiency – can help add to that record at Sebring.”
Sebring is the second round of the inaugural TUDOR Championship. As at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, each of the Corvettes will have three drivers each. Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen – last year’s American Le Mans Series GT champions – will team with IndyCar star Ryan Briscoe in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R. Defending Sebring class winners Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner will share the No. 4 entry with Robin Liddell.
Gavin, Milner and Richard Westbrook overcame early electrical issues and came from two laps down to win last year’s race in their Corvette C6.R. Ahead of this year’s race, Corvette Racing has tested the C7.R at Sebring on multiple occasions, and for good reason.
Sebring International Raceway pounds race cars like no other race track in the world. The facility sits on the site of Fort Hendricks – a World War II airbase that was used as a training ground for American B-17 bombers. Part of the circuit – most notably Turn 16 through the exit of Turn 1 – uses the old concrete runway and taxiway, which makes up some of the roughest sections of racing surface anywhere in the world. It’s part of what makes Sebring physically the toughest venue in endurance racing.
The new aluminum frame – 40 percent stiffer than the C6.R – should be a huge benefit over the bumps at Sebring. The direct-injected engine offers better fuel economy, a critical element in long-distance endurance racing. The advanced aerodynamics on the C7.R compliments both the stability and efficiency factors.
Television coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will be available live on FOX Sports 1 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET with the remainder of the race airing live on IMSA.com. FOX Sports 1 also will air a three-hour recap at 8:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, March 16.