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Grand Touring Prototype

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IMSA GT Chanpionship 1984-1988

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The Chevrolet Corvette GTP was a GTP-class racing car which participated in the IMSA GT Championship from 1984 until 1989. Used for General Motors factory effort in IMSA GT, the car was developed in conjunction with Lola Cars International. Although using the Chevrolet Corvette name, the car shared almost nothing mechanically with the Corvette and borrowed only some styling elements.

Development

Prior to 1984, Chevrolet naturally-aspirated V8s and Buick turbocharged V6s were popular engines in the GTP class for privateer teams. However General Motors (GM) saw the opportunity to enter the IMSA GT Championship for themselves in the 1984 season in an attempt to bolster their image by fighting against Jaguar, Porsche, Nissan, and Mazda.

General Motors turned to Lola Cars International of the United Kingdom, who had previous experience building cars for Mazda, to build their own chassis, termed the Corvette GTP in an attempt to improve the Corvette image. Following testing on an older Lola T600 with a Chevrolet V8, an all new car was built, termed the T710. The first chassis were delivered to General Motors in 1984 and outfitted with a 3.4 litre turbocharged V6, similar to the Buick unit previously used. A second chassis, known as T711 used the alternative 5.7 litre naturally-aspirated V8, and arrived at GM before the close of 1984. This would allow GM to be able to keep on pace with at least one car, dependent on which engine better suited a track.

The cars featured bodywork similar to a Chevrolet Corvette C4 at the front, with a long pontoon-style tail featuring Corvette tail lights. Large side intakes would feed the radiators while the turbocharged chassis had a snorkel built into the top of the fender to feed the turbocharger.

Later Chassis

Following the first full season for the Corvette GTP in 1985, the cars were replaced with new chassis for 1986. Termed T86/10 by Lola, the new cars featured evolved bodywork which included a smaller opening for the side radiator. The rear pontoons were also able to be removed on the new chassis for courses that did not require longer tails. GM mostly abandoned the use of the naturally aspirated V8, opting instead for the turbocharged V6, now at a smaller 3.0 litre displacement.

A third chassis was also built in 1987 which introduced modifications made by GM subsidiary Lotus. Termed T86/12 by Lola, this car featured an active suspension system that would allow the car to alter its suspension stiffness during the race. The car was used in competition only once where its suspension system failed. It was then retained by GM mostly as a developmental prototype.

Two more chassis were added to the Corvette GTP fleet over the next few years, with one built at the end of 1987 for use in 1988, while the other would be completed midway through 1988. Both would regain a naturally aspirated V8, now running at 6.0 litres, but feature only minor mechanical and visual differences from the T86/10s.

Eagle 700

Following the abandonment of the project at the end of 1988 by General Motors and the end of privateer competition by Peerless Racing in 1989, the decision was made to take Peerless' car into international racing, entering the 1990 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car was used as a platform for Eagle Performance to attempt to use a 10.2 litre 4 cam,32 valve V8 engine (based on the BB Chevy engine layout) to take on large manufacturers at Le Mans. The car was (slightly) modified to the point that Eagle chose to rename it the Eagle 700. Beyond the modifications necessary to house the large V8 engine internally, the car remained the same as it was run in IMSA series including the 'unique' short tail design that GM developed in its wind tunnel testing for this car and became the basis of the design for the tail section of late (1992 - 1996) C4 Corvettes.

This car (T8811-HU01) was the pinnacle of Corvette race development and is currently being put back to IMSA spec's with the SBC engine for Vintage Racing.

Chassis

In total, seven cars would be built under the Corvette GTP name, although nearly all had different designations by Lola. 

The '10' in the chassis number indicates a 'Turbo V-6' factory designation and the '11' in the chassis number indicates a 'V-8' factory designated design

T710-HU01

  • Racing Systems (1984)
  • Hendrick Motorsport (1985-1986)

Winner at Road Atlanta (1986)

T711-HU02

  • Lee Racing (1985-1986)
  • Hendrick Motorsport (1986)

T86/10-HU01

  • Hendrick Motorsport (1986-1987)

Winner at Palm Beach (1986)

T86/10-HU02

  • Hendrick Motorsport (1986-1988)

T86/12-HU03

  • Hendrick Motorsport (1987)

Equipped with Lotus active suspension

T87/10-HU01

  • Hendrick Motorsport (1988)

T88/11-HU01

  • Peerless Racing (1988-1989)

Eagle Performance (1990)

 

VIDEO: 1986 IMSA Road Atlanta

VIDEO: 1986 IMSA Grand Prix of Palm Beach

PICTURES: Corvette GTP

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