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Were The New Corvette Race Cars Ready For Prime Time?

C8 Corvette Z06 GT3.R
Photo by Richard Prince for Corvette Racing

After just two races, AWA has announced the sudden departure of the No.17 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R from the 2024 IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship.

Piloted by full-time drivers Anthony Mantella and factory man Nico Varrone, the vibrant green and red Corvette has endured just two rounds. Mantella’s split with AWA follows a troubled start to the year, as the No. 17 Corvette encountered electrical trouble at Daytona after 500 laps and retired after just two laps at Sebring due to an alternator issue.

The decision to withdraw rests squarely with Mantella, the owner of the No.17 car. The Canadian has grown so disillusioned that he has taken the drastic step of posting the Corvette Z06 GT3.R for sale on Instagram. Teething issues have plagued GM’s latest GT3 car, as evidenced by the experiences of the factory-supported Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports and its customer teams AWA and TF Sport.

The Corvette Z06 GT3.R stands out as one of the most expensive GTD cars on record, with a base price north of $700,000 for the car alone, excluding telemetry sensors, spares, and running costs.

Rumors swirled around the Sebring paddock on the eve of the 12-hour endurance classic regarding AWA’s dissatisfaction with the Corvette Z06 GT3.R. The team transitioned to IMSA’s GTD class for 2024 following the demise of the LMP3 class in the WeatherTech series.

Sources in the paddock reveal that AWA has a history of grappling with new machinery. When the team ran the Duqueine LMP3 car, it insisted on doing things its way, disregarding setup directions and best practices outlined by the Duqueine factory in France and the North American parts distributors. It took a few seasons before the team found its footing in LMP3.

A brief statement posted by AWA on social media read: “Anthony Mantella has elected to step away from the GTD program at this moment in time. The No. 13 car will continue to proceed as planned and will be present at the upcoming round in Long Beach.”

With the “36 Hours of Florida” in the books, split between the season-opening Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, the none of the race teams fielding the new C8 Corvette Z06 GT3.R have managed to step on the podium. The same goes for teams fielding the new S650 Ford Msutang Dark Horse GT3.

The 2024 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is scheduled from Friday, April 19, 2024, to Saturday, April 20, 2024.

Photo by Richard Prince for Corvette Racing

Written by Michael Accardi

Michael refuses to sit still, he's held multiple hands-on automotive jobs throughout his career. Along with being an investigative writer and accomplished photographer, Michael works for several motorsports organizations.

He was part of the Ford GT program at Multimatic, oversaw a fleet of Audi TCR race cars, has ziptied Lamborghini Super Trofeo cars back together, been over the wall in the Rolex 24, and worked in the cut-throat world of IndyCar.

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