The Corvette Racing team will make its debut race on cellulosic E85 in the upcoming American LeMans Series Acura Sports Car Challenge in St. Petersburg, Florida April 4-5. GM Racing program manager Doug Fehan says they are very excited about it.
“GM is the leader in the production of flex fuel vehicles, we produce over 2.5 million and we are the largest producer in the world,” Fehan said during a teleconference on Wednesday. “Corvette has always tried to position itself as a leader in GM and within the racing community and this was a chance for Corvette again to demonstrate that leadership.”
Fehan says they had some challenges perfecting the fuel cell for using E85 in the race car, which kept them from using the fuel in the ALMS Twelve Hours of Sebring but they have resolved that issue. Comparing E85 to gasoline, Fehan says there is a difference in fuel mileage “but from a power and performance standpoint, it’s virtually the same.”
The Corvette Racing C6.R driven by Johnny O’Connell, Jan Magnussen and Ron Fellows captured ninth overall and first in the 12 hours of Sebring in Florida, the season opener for the American Le Mans Series.
O’Connell agrees that performance with the cellulosic E85 is identical. “There has been absolutely no loss in performance at all (running the E85 in the Corvette) it’s as amazing as it’s always been,” he says. Because of the lower fuel mileage he says they do have to carry a little more fuel which makes the car a little heavier at the start, but “we’ll make that up on the other side” when the car is lighter.
O’Connell is especially pleased with the environmental benefits of running E85. “We all want to be as green as we possibly can and recognize that we do need to change things to keep racing in our culture as we go forward,” said O’Connell.
Corvette Racing has a technical partnership with the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council to spotlight E85 in the ALMS, and the cellulosic E85 for the race is being provided by KL Process Design Group of South Dakota. Two other teams – the Intersport Racing Lola and the Drayson-Barwell Racing Aston Martin – are also running on E85 in the ALMS series.
Listen to part of the press conference here: