I took my C7 to Thunderhill Raceway yesterday. The track conditions were incredible with temps hovering around 75-80 degrees with a slight breeze.
About me: Raced multiple sports cars in the SCCA in the early 2000s. Road raced motorcycles in the 2006-2013 time frame. Most recent track car: 2010 Porsche Boxster S
I sold the Porsche in order to get the C7. I have hundreds of laps around Thunderhill in various Porsches and other vehicles, so this track was going to provide a very nice comparison of the C7 vs. other cars.
About the car: C7 Z51 1LT 7 sp manual, performance exhaust, MRC, red calipers, competition seats, LM harness bar, Schroth racing harness
Car prep: Carbotech 12 upfront, 10 in rear. Cooling rings installed. Brake bleeder malfunction did not allow the changing of fluid to a high-temp DOT4(more on this later). Changed oil to 15-50 Mobil 1. Set starting tire pressure to 26 and ran them around 32 hot.
My first impressions were simply this: WOW! I was immediately pleased with my purchase and the capabilities of this car. The torque is absolutely intoxicating! Love it! The sound is also incredible. I couldn't wait to feel the torque coming off each corner because it was so linear. Pulls from down low and keeps pulling.
The car would illicit a bit of understeer upon turn-in, but with some trail braking an a bit more of a flick at turn-in, the rear would rotate predictably and consistently. The ability to steer this car with the throttle was very easy and predictable. I had perma-grin lap after lap allowing the car to move around a bit at turn in and upon leaving the apex. If trying to put down a fast lap, I'd be a bit more patient with the throttle. But if I wanted to feel the car slide a bit to understand how it would react- I'd simply and purposely get a bit greedy with the throttle a bit early. I literally laughed out loud every time.
Balance. I was worried about this especially coming from a mid-engine car that is well known for incredible balance. The C7 with such a large motor up front seems as though it should drive front end heavy. It doesn't. To me, the car exhibited very good balance at turn it, apex and driving towards the exit. It does require a bit more subtle turn in at very high speeds so that the rear doesn't get too snappy. The Porsche allowed a more aggressive turn in given the weight balance. The Vette requires one to simply slow down the turn-in initiation to maintain the balance. The suspension is great. Very stiff when needed, but also compliant over the bumps and jumps(there is one spot on the track that allows the car to get airborne for those brave enough to hit it with speed). I was impressed with the relative lack of body roll for a stock suspension.
Brakes. They were very good. The carbotech pads had lots of bite and feel. The car broke with good stability and didn't allow the rear to wander when coming into very hard braking zones. The only issue I had was early brake fade. I was unable to swap the DOT3 fluid with some quality DOT4 high temp fluid because my motive bleed adaptor wasn't creating a good seal. I was concerned that even with the better pads and cooling rings installed, the heat may be an issue for the fluid. It was. I ended every session at least 2 laps early in order to not completely lose the brake pedal. Had I been able to run better fluid, I don't think this would have been an issue. Next up on the to do list is steel braided lines and better fluid.
Power. As mentioned, the torque is awesome. After the first session, I felt as thought there was no way I'd want more power. By the end of the day, I was thinking "yeah, I could take another 100hp". But for a stock rig for $60K, I am very, very happy with the power.
PTM. I began the first session of the day in Sport 1 mode. I wanted to see when/how the electronics would engage and how that would affect driving at pace. I'd watch the electronic lights flicker from time to time, but it didn't really keep the experience from being fun. Rather, it would keep someone unfamiliar with the car or the track(or both) from getting overzealous and ending up off the racing surface.
The next 2 sessions I ran the car in Race mode. My understanding of race mode is that it allows full power and ALL of the electronics aids (Traction control/Stabilitrak) are turned off. While the mode definitely allowed for more driver input than that of sport mode, I swear that some electronics would come on when trying to drive off the corner aggressively. I felt like there was a bit of power cut when I'd really try and break traction coming off the corner.
The final 2 sessions I figured I'd ensure that all aids were off. I ran the car in Track mode and held the TC button down until both Stabilitrak and TC off lights showed. In this configuration, I was able to slide the car and break traction at will. Again, not necessarily the fastest line, but it sure was fun. With all nannies off, I felt I could rotate the car better at turn-in and also steer more with the throttle in order to get the proper drive. Maybe it's me, but I swear in PTM race mode, the car behaved differently. I'd love to hear others' experience in that regard.
REV MATCHING: I had read some comments about rev-matching and most were along the lines of "I can heel/toe better then the rev-match system can". With many of the comments in mind, I was a bit predjudice towards my superior ability to heel/toe better then the system could. I have always heel/toed and believe myself to be very adept at the skill. The truth of the matter (I believe) is that getting EXACTLY the proper rev-match is very difficult. The best heel/toe may get pretty close and feel smooth, but I believe it is still in-exact. I believe we typically get pretty close to perfect, but typically land just a bit above or below the exact RPM needed. BUT, I still love to heel/toe and intended to utilize this skill in the car on the track.
With that in mind, I set out for the first session with Rev Match OFF. I heel/toed and felt smooth and comfortable. For the second session, I turned Rev Match ON. I was immediately impressed with the system. It seemed incredibly smooth and spot on for the RPMs needed. The blip was instantaneous and natural. I honestly liked it more than I wanted to. It was better than I wanted it to be. I was hoping my superior skillset would prevail, but honestly; I think the Rev Match system was better and more accurate. I found myself running Rev Match on for the entire rest of the day and was able to focus on other things while enjoying the automatic "blip". Everyone that spent time in the car thought it was the coolest feature and commented on its smoothness. I hate to say it, but the electronics win over human ability on this one. I would not, however; feel the same way on the street. The speeds need to be relatively high with heavy brake pressure to allow the full benefits of Rev Match(in my opinion).
Onlookers. If I wasn't in the car driving, I was outside the car talking about it. This car is iconic Americana AND is a great underdog story (in my mind). I found 2-10 people waiting for me to pull into the paddock after every session. They simply wanted to admire the car and talk. There were essentially 3 camps. 1) The car enthusiast who appreciates what Chevy has done with the marvel. 2)Corvette enthusiasts who are proud of the latest iteration 3)People whe no little about cars, but simply wanted to know "What is that?"
It was fun to see so much enthusiasm and interest in this American automobile. I never tired of talking about it and took a couple of individuals out for hot sessions. No joke- One guy offered me $5K over what I had paid for the car!
In summary, the car is amazing on the track. Very capable out of the box with gobs of power and razor sharp handling. I'm still amazed at what Chevrolet had been able to build for the money. I couldn't come up with a better value when shopping for my next high-performance car. Add some R-compound rubber and a more aggressive alignment and I really can't think of anything else I'll do to this car for the track.
I have tons of Go-Pro footage of the day. Unfortunately, the interior is so dark(black) and the front windshield relatively far away from the harness bar mount; the camera over-exposes everything outside the windshield and has great focus inside the cockpit. With a mount closer to the windshield, this should be eliminated. I'll post up a link once complete.
I hope that each of you enjoys your car as much as I'm enjoying mine. See you on the road or on the track.