Corvette Chief Engineer Explains Motor Trend "Best Driver's Car" DNF
When you bring your halo-of-halo sports cars to a competition to sort out the “Best Driver’s Car”, you definitely want to give it a new set of brake pads, make sure all the electrical connections are seated properly, and maybe — just maybe — not send a car that was offed in a previous comparison test.
But that’s just what Chevrolet did for this year’s edition of Motor Trend’s “Best Driver’s Car”, and it came back to bite the General — hard.
In a post on Corvette Forum (via MotorAuthority), Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter explained just why the 650 horsepower, LT1-powered Corvette Z06 was unable to finish the test. Since Tadge insists on giving context, here was his reply nearly in its entirety:
During testing at C and D [Lightning Lap] the car went off track into a tire wall. Stuff happens. It wasn’t the first time this has happened and I’m certain it won’t be the last. Fortunately, the damage to the car was cosmetic (rear fascia, supports and the energy absorption assembly). It didn’t have any fundamental structural or chassis damage. The alignment was fine. Basically, zip ties and some duct tape was all it took to make it track-worthy. The car then went out and ran the second fastest Lightening Lap they have ever recorded.
Any time there is an incident like that, we have to tear the car down, replace broken parts and make it like-new again. In the few days we had to prep the car for Motor Trend, we did a tremendous amount of work to make sure the car was safe, capable and pretty. In our haste, two things were missed.We always replace brake pads before delivering a car, but this was missed. I can’t remember this ever happening before, but it did. We have since changed our pre-test check procedure so this can never happen again. Although Motor Trend made it a point in the article, they did not notice any issue with braking performance during their spirited street drives. Our engineer on-site noticed the linings were worn, and they were immediately replaced and burnished. This was done the day before the Z06 was run on track by Randy Pobst and had absolutely no bearing on the results of the test.
The second unfortunate occurrence related to the intercooler circuit. One of our pre-loan checks is to bleed the intercooler circuit to make sure there is no air in it. Some customer complaints about over heating Z06s have been traced to improperly bled intercoolers. The technician doing the work plugged in the electrical connector for the intercooler pump and it seemed to seat and “click” into position, but the secondary latching mechanism did not fully lock into position leading to intermittent operation. Without the pump running there is no coolant flow, no intake charge cooling and the engine pulls spark to protect itself. That is what Motor Trend experienced at random times during their testing. Unfortunately, the connector was seated enough that the pump and engine worked fine in all the pre-test driving done before trucking the car across the country to Motor Trend in California. Remember this is the same car that performed flawlessly a few weeks prior in sweltering heat during Car and Driver’s Lightning Lap. The possibility of bad fuel was discussed because it was clear there was an abundant amount of spark retard, but we didn’t discover the true root cause until the car had returned to the Milford Proving Grounds after the test. We have modified our procedure to run the pump remotely during the bleed process so this issue can be avoided in the future.
If you want to check out the comparison for yourself, here you go.
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