Revamped Lime Rock Park Is a Journey into the Unknown for Corvette Racing
Team Will Use High-Tech Tools to Come to Grips with New Asphalt and Track Configuration
LAKEVILLE, Conn. – Corvette Racing’s drivers and team members have decades of experience at Lime Rock Park, but they will encounter something completely different in Saturday’s American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix. With new corners and a freshly paved surface, the familiar track in rural Connecticut will be full of unknowns for America’s premier production sports car team.
“The biggest challenge is that we have very limited data on the new Lime Rock track layout,” said Ken Flory, chief engineer for the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen. “While we have maps of the new sections, they don’t show the elevations, banking, and specific details of the track. With new paving on the entire track, the grip level is a mystery as well.”
At 1.51 miles in length, the track has lost a few yards of pavement, but the corner count has increased from eight to 10. Fortunately Chevrolet’s factory road racing team has the analytical tools and technical resources to unlock the mysteries of the new Lime Rock Park quickly.
“We’ve run our computer simulations of the circuit using the data from previous events and taking into account the new corners and anticipated grip level,” Flory explained. “It appears that there will be more speed differential between the fast and slow corners, and the drivers will be using second through sixth gears. I would characterize the old circuit as high-speed and bumpy, but with the new pavement, we anticipate a smoother track surface.”
With only a pair of one-hour practice sessions before GT1 qualifying begins on Friday afternoon, the Corvette Racing engineering team will need to make quick decisions on setup for the two-hour, 45-minute race on Saturday.
“We plan to use maximum instrumentation on the cars to gather as much information as we can in the first practice session,” Flory revealed. “We’ll pay close attention to tire temperatures and suspension ride heights initially. The team typically begins the race weekend with similar setups on both Corvette C6.Rs, and then we take different directions to evaluate various options. Then for the race, the setups tend to converge and we end up with similar combinations on the No. 3 and No. 4 Corvettes.”
The American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix marks Corvette Racing’s return to ALMS competition after finishing second and third in the GT1 class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 14-15. Although the next Le Mans race is still a year away, the team is already focusing on the biggest prize in international sports car racing.
“First of all, I’m really excited to see all the new changes at Lime Rock Park that I’ve looked forward to for 35 years,” said veteran Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “We have a notebook filled with lessons learned at Le Mans, and race by race we will begin to implement those and measure the improvements. Consequently the remainder of the ALMS season becomes an extension of our continuous improvement program. We also want to maintain long-term continuity with our drivers and team members as look ahead to next year.”
“With Aston Martin returning to GT1 competition in Lime Rock, we have manufacturers and team championships that we want to win again,” Fehan noted. “The drivers of the No. 3 and No. 4 Corvettes both want to win the drivers championship, and that will be a season-long intramural battle for the fans to enjoy.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., on Saturday, July 12, at 2:05 p.m. EDT. SPEED will televise the race tape-delayed on Sunday, July 13, from noon to 3 p.m. EDT.
Release Date: July 10, 2008