Corvette C8.R "more on balance" with rivals than predecessor
Corvette Racing team manager Ben Johnson says the American brand's new mid-engined C8.R is more "on balance" with its rivals in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Johnson was speaking on the eve of the C8.R's first appearance in the FIA World Endurance Championship at the Circuit of the Americas, following the car's debut in last month's IMSA season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.
There, Corvette scored a fourth-place finish in the GT Le Mans class with its #3 car, while the sister #4 machine was removed from contention by an oil leak.
"It was really encouraging to see we could race with the other manufacturers straight out of the box," Johnson told Motorsport.com. "There are things that this car does better for sure; weight distribution and general behavior of the car, tire degradation is much better.
"Things that we dealt with on the C7 just are not existent here. It puts us much more in the box with the other competitors.
"The C7 had its strong places, but probably more often than not we were trying to be clever about how to make up for the disadvantage that we had. This [C8] is a weapon that will put us more on balance with the rest."
Asked if he felt an IMSA title challenge could be on the cards as soon as this year, Johnson replied: "From what we saw at Daytona, there’s no reason to think we shouldn’t be able to.
"The last Sebring test was very encouraging in terms of reliability and pace, so if we’re reliable, I think we can be in the fight for podiums and wins starting at the next race."
Concerns over "conservative" WEC BoP
Corvette's solo C8.R for this weekend's Lone Star Le Mans race is running 20kg [44lbs] lighter than it did at Daytona but with less power, courtesy of a 3mm [0.118-inch] smaller air restrictor diameter.
Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller will pilot the car both at COTA and for the following round of the WEC at Sebring, which takes place before the IMSA 12-hour race.
Johnson said that the WEC's tendency to give new cars a "conservative" BoP would harm Corvette's chances of scoring a big result on the car's debut in the series.
"We have some concerns on the Balance of Performance, but it’s the first outing for the car in the WEC, so we need some data points to make sure that’s evened out," he said. "That part of it we can’t control, so our focus is to do as well as we can on the operation and execution side.
"It’s not unexpected. You understand to a degree that you don’t want to have a new car show up in the middle of the season and upset the racing.
But if it turns out to be as conservative as our data shows, then maybe some adjustments will come and we can mix it up with the other manufacturers [in subsequent races]."
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