The Le Mans 24 Hours GTE-Pro and GTE-Am Winning,
2012 FIA WEC GTE-Am World Championship Winning,
Ex – Works Corvette Racing and Larbre Competition
2011 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R ZR1 GTE
The pride of Detroit: for over 65 years the Chevrolet Corvette has flown the flag as America’s sports car. Founded by Swiss born racer and engineer Louis Chevrolet and fellow racer William C ‘Billy’ Durant in 1911, under the parent company General Motors, Chevrolet have long been a prominent force in US and international motorsport both as an engine provider and a manufacturer.
From the first arrival of Chevrolet’s Corvette in 1953 it stood out from the crowd. Wild curvaceous lines and a powerful engine, it was every boys dream. Billed by Chevrolet as ‘America’s only true sportscar’, Chevrolet made its debut as a factory effort at the 1956 Sebring 12 Hours with five Corvettes. In 1960 the Corvette started it long standing pilgrimage to Le Mans for the 24 Hours with a team of three cars entered by Briggs Cunningham. The Corvette went on to be a regular feature at Le Mans through the 1960s, 1970s and into the early 1980s, as well as taking on the GTO Class in IMSA.
Despite its success, GM had never wanted the Corvette to race and therefore a factory backed racing program was never created. In later years when GM wanted to promote their brands via motorsports, they would still keep their involvement at arms length despite having a rather intense factory assistance. In the 1980s, when the Corvette GTP competed in IMSA it was still very much an independently run programme. The Corvette GTP project was very complex and required factory assistance for its development, yet still it was raced by the Hendrick Motorsports team, with very little visible factory support or ties.
It was not until the 1990s that the seed was finally set for change. Frustrated by the lack of recognition for the Chevrolet brand racing within GM, Doug Fehan, who had previously worked on GM’s racing programs with Buick in the IMSA series in the late 1980s, pitched to General Motors about starting a fully factory backed motorsport programme. Initially an uphill battle but with introduction the C5 road car, the most advanced Corvette to date, the project gained traction and the rest is history.
The modern era of Corvette competition began in 1999 with the debut of the Corvette Racing team. Taking on and beating the might of factory-supported teams representing Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, Aston Martin, the highly successful partnership between Chevrolet and Pratt and Miller Engineering has to date chalked up 107 wins worldwide. 8 of those are Le Mans 24 Hour Class wins, with one win courtesy of the car we have the pleasure of offering for sale here.
Further to that they have taken three class wins in the Daytona 24 Hours at and a staggering 11 in the Sebring 12 Hours. With more victories than any other entrants in IMSA history, from 1999 to 2013 Corvette Racing led the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) in all time victories and 1-2 finishes. In total, Corvette Racing have taken 12 Manufacturer titles, 11 driver titles and 12 team titles.
The Corvette C5-R (1999-2004)
Two constructors were initially selected to build and develop the race cars: Pratt & Miller and Riley & Scott. It was not long before Pratt & Miller emerged as the sole constructor. Impressed with how great of a road car the C5 Corvette was, Fehan was confident it would translate into a great race car. The core of the initial race car was very close to the factory C5 road car which meant little modifications had to be made to the factory chassis to make it more competitive. This would prove to be one of the keys to the future success of the car. In 1998 the first cars were built and ready for testing.
The engine was developed by Katech Engine Development. With the FIA’s decision to restrict the GTS class engines output to 600 hp via air intake restrictors, the C5-R started with the LS1 race engine seeing an increase in displacement from 5.6-litres to 6.0-litres. For the last race of 1999 and beyond the C5-R moved to the new 7.0-litre V8.
For two years of testing and development during 1997 and 1998 the team went to great lengths not to raise any suspicion to the public or the press, using a small unmarked fifth-wheel trailer and no markings on the car it was secretly tested the car until they felt they had a car capable of debuting.
From its debut at 1999 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona the new C5-R became a dominant force in global GT racing. In the five years the C5-R was run by Corvette Racing, it had accomplished 35 class wins, an overall win at Daytona, three class wins at Le Mans and four ALMS manufactures championships. In the C5-Rs final season with Corvette Racing in 2004, it went undefeated.
The Corvette C6.R Z06 (2005-2008)
The Chevrolet Corvette C6.R was the race-going evolution of the Chevrolet Corvette C6 Z06 road car. Constructed by Pratt & Miller and run by Corvette Racing, it was to compete in the American Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The C6.R was originally built to specifications for the production-based GTS class that was renamed to GT1 in 2005 and would continue on the successful path of its predecessor, the C5-R.
Built upon the experience gained from the C5-R as well as the advances made in the new-generation Corvette C6 and Z06 production models. Unlike with the C5, Pratt & Miller were able to give input into the design of the new sixth generation Corvette, particularly in aerodynamics. Under the bonnet of the C6.R sat the new LS7.R motor, again developed by Katech. The new 7-litre small-block V8 featured CNC ported cylinder heads, titanium valves and connecting rods, a forged steel crankshaft, and plate-honed cylinder bores. For transmission the C6.R utilised the Xtrac six-speed sequential that had been developed for the last year of the C5-R.
After a full year of rigorous testing and development the all new C6.R was officially unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on the 10th January 2005 alongside the new Chevrolet Corvette (C6) Z06. General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz introduced the C6.R with Corvette Racing driver Ron Fellows driving it onto the stage. With a lot to live up to from its predecessor, the new C6.R did not disappoint.
Going head to head with the Prodrive Aston Martin DBR9s, first blood went to the DBR9 when it won the GT1 class in the Sebring 12 Hours with the two C6.Rs taking the other steps of the podium in 2nd and 3rd. From that point on, the C6.R had the upper hand winning the GT1 class at Le Mans when it finished 5th and 6th overall. The C6.R dominated the ALMS, taking victory in the ALMS GT1 Manufacturers’ Championship and the ALMS GT1 Drivers Championship for Oliver Gavin and Oliver Berretta.
The C6.R went on to take both the manufacturers’ and drivers’ championships in 2006, 2007 and 2008 as well as the GT1 class win over the Prodrive Aston Martins at Le Mans in 2006 and 2007.
The Corvette C6.R ZR1
With the decline of opposing competition within GT1, Corvette Racing made the decision to concentrate on the new and well attended GT2 class. An all new car needed to be developed for the rule set and the C6.R ZR1 is the result. Based on the road going C6 ZR1 model, it was constructed by Pratt & Miller and ran by Corvette Racing,
While the previous GT1 C6.R was based on the production Z06, which featured a steel chassis. The higher end ZR1 road model used a hydroformed aluminium chassis, a feature which was a draw to the base model for its light weight and increased stiffness.
Safety has always maintained a priority over performance for Corvette Racing and a full steel roll cage was mated to the aluminium chassis with a technique specifically developed to ensure a very strong interface for this purpose.
After physical testing and analysis of the structural components, the results proved that the C6.R ZR1 was the safest GT car on the track. Pratt & Miller carried over a number of safety details from the GT1 car including the drivers side energy absorbing crash box, the door bar structure, the energy absorbing panels and the right side window net despite the GT2 rules not requiring them.
The GT2 class rules also enforced a lot more use of production based components. This included the use of the factory floor plan, transmission tunnel, firewall, windshield frame, B-pillar halo and the door hinge pillars. Both the ACO and FIA required that GT2 cars had to maintain the primary production structure of the chassis.
The C6.R ZR1 chassis really impressed the team with its on track performance from the outset. For GT2, the FIA required the use of a smaller front splitter, a rear wing with a shallower chord and a more simple rear diffuser. This put more pressure on a constructor to utilise mechanical grip. The use of the aluminium ZR1 chassis yielded a big increase in stiffness and mechanical grip over the previous GT1 steel chassis. After initial testing, the team announced that the C6.R ZR1 produced the most mechanical grip of any race car that they had built to date, and the drivers’ noted how the aero balance of the car was more consistent at all speeds.
On the engine side, Katech met the GT2 regulations by reducing the capacity of the LS7.R engine from 7.0-litres to 6.0-litres by shortening the stroke of the crankshaft. In 2010, after a decade of Katech building the Corvette Racing engines, GM took over and moved to an in-house engine building operation. This coincided with a change in engine regulations in GT2 enforcing the maximum size of 5.5-litres for naturally aspirated engines or 4.0-litres for forced induction engines.
The 2010 5.5-Litre GM V8 differed from the 2009 6.0-Litre Katech engine by further reducing the crankshaft stroke and the capacity. In 2012 the air restrictors saw an increase from 28.6mm to 29.2mm which yielded performance gains and saw the 5.5-Litre GM V8 rise to a power output of 491 bhp and 485 lbft of torque.
The GT2 rules allowed for higher rev limiters so the C6.R ZR1 saw an increased shift point of 6,400rpm compared to the 5,700rpm of the GT1 C6.R.
The 2009 GT2 C6.R continued to use the same Xtrac six-speed sequential transmission from the previous GT1 car. This was initially controlled by a sequential change lever and in 2011 the FIA changed the rules making paddle shift operated transmissions legal in the GT class. This allowed for slightly quicker gear changes but also when set up properly helped minimise wear and tear on the drivetrain.
The team saw benefits of the ZR1 design as it featured a unique high-speed aero package unlike any other model of Corvette as the ZR1 road car was designed to exceed 200 mph. The ZR1’s wide carbon fibre front wheel arches with dual vents along with the aero package enhanced the high-speed stability and the on-track performance. This was another factor for Pratt & Miller using the ZR1 as the GT2 platform as its design aided the overall enhancement of the C6.R’s aerodynamic performance.
The C6.R ZR1 made its debut in the second half of the 2009 season after Corvette Racing had decided to have one more go at the GT1 class at Le Mans. The new GT2 C6.R ZR1 made it debut at Mid-Ohio in August where it immediately impressed the media and fans alike finishing second in class and in the third outing at Mosport just three weeks later, victory was taken.
Against factory entries from Ferrari, Porsche and BMW, the large roster for GT2 would see the most competition Corvette Racing had faced in years and it directly corresponded with their goal of displaying the potential of the Corvette brand versus the rest of the world’s best. Accomplishing four podiums in five races, Corvette Racing and Pratt & Miller had yet again built a phenomenal GT race car, beating what the rest of the world had to offer.
This car: C6.R ZR1 C6GT-003
This stunning example is the 3rd of only 6 examples of the C6.R ZR1 ever built. Fresh for 2011, C6GT-003 benefitted from all of Pratt & Miller’s upgrades. The main ones being the introduction of the paddle operated transmission and an upgraded aero package. C6GT-003 saw new enlarged cut outs behind the rear wheels to feed more air over the diffuser.
The angle of the redesigned diffuser was also steeper creating a greater use of the Bernoulli effect, which forces the high pressure air to increase in speed towards the low pressure air. The steeper angle of the rear diffuser along with the rear wheel lower cutouts allowed for a cleaner air flow under the car, overall increasing the rear grip. All in all helping the C6.R development and cutting lap times.
C6GT-003 made its debut at for the ALMS Test at Sebring on the 10th of February 2001, driven by multiple championship winner Oliver Beretta and Antonio Garcia. They led the way for the team and took 1st in the GT class and 9th overall.
At Sebring for the the 59th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on the 19th of March 2011, Beretta and Garcia were back in the car along with US driver Tommy Milner. Having qualified a disappointing 9th in GT, they went on to finish an impressive 3rd in the very competitive GT class with a 13th overall.
From Sebring it was off to the west coast for the second round of the ALMS at Long Beach in California. 003 was piloted by Beretta and Milner for the two hour race, with the duo qualifying 9th in GT. 003 fought its way up through the GT field to finish 5th.
Next for 003 was Le Mans for the 24 Hours on the 12th of June. With the Sebring driver line up of Beretta/Garcia/Milner, 003 carried race number 73 and was entered in the GTE-Pro class with the works Corvette Racing team. The trio qualified 6th in class, just a tenth back from the sister C6.R.
In race, the sister number 74 car got off to an early class lead. By dawn, Jan Magnussen in the #74 Corvette had built up a lead of 2 laps over the 2nd placed GTE-Pro car, the #51 AF Corse Ferrari. However, at 8am, he lost traction coming out of the Porsche Curves and collided with the #63 Proton Competition Porsche. Both cars were immediately out of the race. With 7 hours to go, the #51 AF Corse Ferrari was back in the lead, more than a lap ahead of 003. When the track became damp late in the race, though, the Corvette saw the gap come down by more than 2 seconds per lap on the Ferrari.
The Corvette drivers were staying in the car for triple stints, whilst the AF Corse Ferrari only double stinted. Despite the Corvette having to pit twice more for fuel, the #73 team’s total pit stop times were up to 2:55 quicker than the Ferrari. This, combined with their pace advantage was just enough for the Corvette to take the lead. Antonio Garcia took the final stint and brought 003 to the finish line for the first Le Mans win of the new FIA WEC era GTE-Pro class.
With Larbre Competition taking the GTE-Am class win with chassis C6.RGT-001, Corvette yet again dominated the GT classes at Le Mans, marking their 100th anniversary in style with the CEO of GM North America in attendance for the weekend.
From Le Mans it was back across the pond for the American Le Mans Series at Lime Rock on the 7th of July. Beretta and Milner lined up 5th in GT with 003 for the 2h45 long race after a wet qualifying session. It was a troubled race for 003 when it and the sister C6.R was caught up in a chain-reaction accident. They managed to continue with damage, finishing 9th in GT at the flag.
Next was Mosport in blistering temperatures on the 24th of July. Carrying its season long race number 3 and with Berretta and Milner sharing driving duties, they qualified 8th in GT after being held up in traffic. In the race, 003 rose to 4th position before contact with a back marker resulted in a spin and lost time, with them finishing 6th in GT.
Round 5 of the ALMS was held at Mid-Ohio at the beginning of August, Beretta and Milner qualified 003 in 8th in GT. After another very hot qualifying session, race day saw a monsoon which brought out a red flag 11 minutes before the planned conclusion of the 2 hour 45 minute race. The treacherous conditions caught out 003 with a spin, and it recovered to take 6th at the finish.
The next race in the ALMS calendar was the Road America 4 Hours. Beretta and Milner again shared the driving duties of 003, qualifying 6th in GT. At the end of the first lap in the race, 003 had risen to 4th and was 3rd at the half way point. 003 had to retire after an off for Milner on his out lap at just after 3 hours.
The team travelled to Baltimore for round 7 of the ALMS, held for the first time on a street circuit within the city. 003 qualified in 4th place within GT with Beretta and Milner, getting up to speed on the new circuit well. In the race, 003 got up to 2nd by the 40 minute mark, but made contact with the leading BMW into the first corner. The front of the C6.R was damaged and a 60 second stop-and-go penalty incurred for 003. With time lost, 003 took 7th in GT at the finish.
On the 17th of September, 003 was back in action for the Laguna Seca 6 Hours. Driven again by Beretta and Milner they focused on the race strategy during qualifying and lined up 8th on the grid. Their hopes for the race didn’t quite pay off, and 003 was classified as 7th in GT at the conclusion of the 6 Hours.
003’s season finished with Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on the 1st of October for the ALMS finale. For this Beretta and Milner were once again joined by Antonio Garcia. Qualifying 9th in GT, 003 was up to 6th by the end of the first lap and climbed to 2nd by the first pit stop. Their race was cut short when at 2 hours into the race the transaxle failed and forced 003’s retirement.
The combined efforts of 003 and the sister C6.R secured Corvette Racing 2nd place in the ALMS GT Team championship, the works squad’s best result since moving to the GT category in 2009.
For 2012, 003 was sold to the highly successful French racing team Larbre Competition to join their exciting C6.R ZR1, 001. Larbre were already a highly regarded outfit for their achievements which had recently included the 001 Corvette in 2011.
003 was to be run by Larbre in the new FIA WEC GTE-Am series with great support from GM and the works Corvette Racing team. Plenty of experience had been amassed in the 2011 season, having won the GTE-Am class at Le Mans that year with 001.
Larbre had sent 001 and much of its personnel over to Corvette Racing’s Pratt & Miller base in Michigan, where they became familiar with the new-to-them 003 while 001 received various updates ahead of the new season.
The year started with the ALMS test at Sebring on the 9th of February. In plain Victory Yellow with race number 50, 003 was shared by Julien Canal, Jean-Philippe Belloc, Christophe Bourrett and Pascal Gibon. After getting acquainted with 003, they were 14th in GT.
Remaining in the USA, the next outing was the Sebring 12 Hours itself on the 17th of March. Entered in GTE-Am with the Demeco yellow, black and red livery along with number 50, 003 was driven by Larbre’s familiar 2011 pairing of French drivers Patrick Bornhauser and Julien Canal, who were joined by former Formula 1 driver and Le Mans podium finished Pedro Lamy.
The trio qualified 3rd fastest in GTE-Am. In the race, Lamy started and soon opened up a 20 second lead in class.
The team maintained the position, and when Lamy got back in for his final stint, the lead was at 30 seconds. With just 15 minutes to go, the transaxle failed and 003 did not cross the finish line but was still classified as 3rd in GTE-Am which completed a double podium for Larbre.
From Florida the team returned to Europe and were in Belgium for the Spa 6 Hours on the 5th of May. This time Bornhauser and Canal were joined by Brazilian Fernando Rees. Having qualified 4th in class, the trio completed the 6 Hours 4th in class after a busy race which saw 003 hit twice by prototypes.
On the 3rd of June it was back to Le Mans for the official test. With Pedro Lamy back in the car, they were 2nd in GTE-Am behind the Aston Martin. Two weeks later the team was back for the main event. Retaining the same driver line up they qualified 6th in class.
003’s work began as soon as the race started and by the third hour it was up to 3rd in GTE-Am. As darkness fell on Circuit de la Sarthe, 003 was battling for the class lead with the IMSA Performance Porsche. Corvette power prevailed and they pulled clear. As the conclusion of the 24 Hours neared, the margin to 2nd place was a huge 6 minutes, but Larbre that Canal was 13 seconds under the minimum driving time required by the regulations. As a result, they had to pit Lamy for Canal to take over, and the gap became virtually non existent. 003 did enough though and Canal took the chequered flag in his home race.
The victory at the 2012 edition of the legendary endurance race gave 003 its second class win at Le Mans in succession and Larbre Competition its 3rd consecutive Le Mans victory. The double points score of Le Mans also moved Larbre into first place in the FIA WEC GTE-Am championship.
On the 25th of August, 003 was back in action at Silverstone for the 6 Hours. Bornhauser, Canal and Rees qualified 7th in GTE-Am but were disqualified from the race due to an issue with the fire extinguisher.
From Silverstone it was back across the Atlantic for the fifth round of the FIA WEC in Brazil for Sao Paulo 6 Hours on the 15th of September. Bornhauser, Canal and Rees qualified 4th in GTE-Am. Rees took the start and avoided a multi car accident on the first lap but 003 suffered some damage when taking avoiding action over a curb. The trio had an otherwise faultless race to take the win in GTE-Am. However, 003 was found to be under the minimum ride height as a result of the damage and was disqualified from the result.
Next, the team was at the Bahrain 6 Hours on the 29th of September. Qualifying 2nd in class, 003 maintained that position at the beginning of the night race. Contact was made with a Ferrari in the second stint, and repairs were needed in the pits which slowed 003’s progress. Despite this, 003 was able to get back on the pace and regain a lap to finished just outside the GTE-Am podium in 4th and maintain Larbre’s championship lead.
The penultimate round of the FIA WEC was on the 14th of October for the Fuji 6 Hours in Japan, where Lamy, Bornhauser and Canal qualified on pole in GTE-Am but received a three place grid penalty for exceeding track limits in qualifying. 003 has a very strong race to take victory in the GTE-AM class and further bolster Larbre’s GTE-Am championship hopes.
From Japan, the team travelled to China for the Shanghai 6 Hours on the 28th of October. Retaining the same driver line up, they qualified 3rd in GTE-Am before going on to take another victory in the GTE-Am class to round out the FIA WEC. The victory was an important one and resulted in 003 securing the 2012 FIA WEC GTE-Am World Championship for Larbre.
2013 saw 003 campaigned again by Larbre Competition starting with the FIA WEC test at Le Castellet in the south of France on the 30th of March. Still carrying race number 50, the driver line up also stayed the same with known French Bornhauser, Canal and Rees. They ended the test as 6th fastest in GTE-Am.
From the French Riviera, racing got underway at Silverstone for the 6 Hours on the 14th of April. Piloted by Bornhauser, Canal and Rees as usual, they qualified 4th in GTE-Am and went on to take 2nd in GTE-Am in the race behind the works Aston Martin. Next up was Spa for the 6 Hours and the battle continued with Aston Martin. With the driver line up staying the same they qualified 4th in GTE-Am before finishing the gruelling 6 Hours 3rd in class.
In June, it was time to go back to Le Mans. Firstly on the 9th for the official test where Bornhauser and Canal were joined by American Ricky Taylor. They ended the test in 8th in GTE-Am, before returning to the Circuit de la Sarthe on the 23rd for the main event. This time Rees was back in the car instead of Taylor. Qualifying 12th in GTE-Am in changing conditions, 003 completed the 24 Hour marathon a staggering 3rd time to come home in 5th in class behind Patrick Dempsey and Patrick Long in the Dempsey Proton Porsche.
To finish the Le Mans 24 Hours once is a highly regarded achievement. For a car to finish it three times in a row taking a class win on two of those occasions is very impressive indeed.
003’s season did not end there, on the 1st of September the team was back in action in Brazil for the Interlagos 6 Hours where they qualified 5th on the grid in GTE-Am and went on to take 6th in GTE-Am by the end of the race. Staying on that side of the Atlantic, it was north to Texas for the Austin 6 Hours where they qualified 7th in class and finished in the same position at the flag.
From America the team travelled to Japan and China for rounds six and seven of the FIA WEC. At the Fuji 6 Hours they qualified 2nd in GTE-Am, and were classified 8th when the race was red flagged after only completing safety car laps due to the extreme rain.
At the 6 Hours of Shanghai, they qualified 8th in GTE-Am, finishing 5th in class at the conclusion of the race having been slowed when the fuelling rig caught fire during a pitstop.
The 2013 FIA WEC finale was the Bahrain 6 Hours at the end of November. With the regular trio of Bornhauser, Canal and Rees, 003 suffered alternator issues in qualifying, and lined up 8th in GTE-Am on the grid.
In the race, 003 climbed the order and was in third position with one hour to go. The final stint had to be on the slower hard compound tyres and 003 dropped to 4th in GTE-Am which would be the final result in its contemporary career. Larbre Competition rounded out the season with 5th place in the FIA WEC GTE-Am championship, expressing its discontent at the Balance of Performance from the season gone.
003 remained in the ownership of Larbre Competition until 2014 when it passed in to its first and only private ownership. Now offered for sale for the first time on the open market this is a very rare opportunity to acquire a staggeringly successful double winner and three time veteran of the Le Mans 24 Hours; one victory in GTE-Pro as a works entry for Corvette Racing, and a second the following year for Larbre Competition in the hotly contested GTE-Am. 003 did not stop at Le Mans victory with GTE-Am wins in the Fuji 6 Hours and Shanghai 6 Hours on the way to taking Larbre Competition to overall victory in the 2012 World Endurance Championship GTE-Am class.
Offered for sale with an extensive spares package including a complete set of spare body work, two sets of spare wheels, and the engine with which it won its class at Le Mans, remaining as it was when taken out of the car and crated for posterity. No one with an interest in racing today will have failed to see the excitement and hunger growing around these modern GT cars. A packed Peter Auto Endurance Racing Legends grid at the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hour is a good indication as to the direction these significant cars are going.
As with all popular race grids and collections alike, history talks and it does not get much better than an ex – works, two time Le Mans 24 Hours class winner, FIA WEC GTE-Am World Championship winner and one of only 6 cars ever made. Eligible Masters Endurance Legends both in Europe and the USA including events such as the HSR Classic Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours, potentially for Peter Auto’s Endurance Racing Legends as well as being a significant addition to any collection.