Hmmm, I wonder how the Chinese market will take to the Corvette? Or at least the C7.R race model that will be competing at the fascinating Shanghai circuit this coming November for the final round of the 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
That’s not the end of the championship, but who cares. This does mark a pretty important milestone for Corvette racing.
The race in question will be the 6 Hours of Shanghai, running November 18th at the 16-turn, 5.45-km Shanghai International Circuit. The track, one of the Hermann Tilke specials, has been around since 2004, and the venue plays host to a number of Motorsports’ championships, including the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix. Two of the track’s more salient features, or at least they’re important if you’re a Corvette racer (or a ‘Murican), are these two massively long straights, where horsepower and top speed reign supreme.
So that makes for particularly auspicious timing for Chevrolet to close Corvette Racing’s 20th season of competition in grand style by hopefully winning (i.e. crushing) the competition at Shanghai. This specific C7.R will wear a special Redline livery for the race weekend and it will also be the first factory-run Corvette to race in Asia.
This Redline thing is a special livery to promote the launch of the Redline special edition in China. Curiously, this all dates back to the 2015 SEMA Show where a custom concept Redline Corvette made its debut. There was a “strong positive response,” according to Chevrolet – or at least enough of a response for the bean-counters at corporate HQ to green light making a limited edition run of the thing. Or, things, to be more accurate.
Redline is a special edition portfolio for China, with this Vette being the first of four models entering the domestic market this year. In the future, nearly all Chevrolet models in China will have Redline variants. Anyway, as you can see from the photo above (sadly, they only shared one with us), this Redline Corvette racer is a dark gray, silver, black, and anthracite-colored thing with red highlights on the stripes and flashes on the end-plates.
Ah, Generic Motors, the people who invented badge “engineering”. . . don’t ever change!
Best of the Best
The WEC, for those of you with the mental capacity of a lowland gorilla and the taste to match, is the world’s key sports car series. This is where the big boys come out to play, race, compete, and win at places like Sebring and Spa and, most importantly, Le Mans. None of the races are shorter than six hours, and the marquee events like Sebring and Le Mans are very long indeed. All of these races are run rain or shine, and in the case of Sebring and Le Mans, through the night as well.
The contests gauge not only speed and driver skill, but also the reliability and fuel economy of the cars.
And those of you with a patriotic bent will be happy to know that when it comes to running hot, straight, and true for a very long time, Corvettes are indeed good cars to have under you.
Corvette Racing has won 107 endurance races, 12 manufacturer championships in IMSA competition, captured 11 driver’s championships, were 11-time class champions at the Sebring 12-hours, racked up eight Le Mans 24-hour victories, three class championships at the Daytona 24-hours and did the Endurance Triple, winning at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans in the same year, 2015.
Chevrolet, for all their button-down, lowest-cost-denominator plasticity, has every reason to point out that their company was founded and established by a race car driver named Louis Chevrolet more than a century ago. And it’s worth pointing out all this “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” calculating that Chevy has done, does allow one, if they are so motivated, to trot down to the local Chevrolet dealer and buy a brand new Corvette; let’s say a ZR1, shall we?
The ZR1 is not all that far removed from this C7.R race car, but they drive that one on the street.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. His forthcoming new book The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me will be available soon. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz