A thunderstorm threatened, but held off seemingly out of respect for the ground bound cacophony coming from Chevrolet's C5-R racing car. The new Le Mans-bound C5-R made an impression on more than the weather, its new red, silver, and blue paint scheme will grace commemorative edition Corvette ZO6s in 2004. Chevy is proud of its two-time 24 Hours of LeMans winner, and a limited run of LeMans blue ZO6s look-a-likes will honor its triumphs. Aside from the optional appearance package, the 2004 ZO6 features a lightweight carbon-fiber composite hood which pares 10.6 pounds out of the standard hood. That may not seem like a lot of weight, but every little bit of weight loss helps the ZO6's 405 horsepower work more effectively.
Once the C5-R team finished their morning testing it was our turn to lap the course in the new ZO6. The LS-6's 405 horsepower has the curious ability to shrink an otherwise inviting racetrack into a narrow blur of apexes and asphalt, but the ZO6 has brakes and grip to survive the melee. Brake dive and abrupt transitions expose a general softness in the ZO6's chassis, but it is this compliance that makes the ZO6 accommodating as a daily driver. Tuned at the famous Nurburgring new shock valving promises to provide firmer yet smoother body control. On the relatively flat course the difference was minute. What the typical jehu will find is a suspension firm and forgiving enough for flying courageous on public roads.
The commemorative edition ZO6 is a fitting tribute to the two-time Le Mans-winning C5-R and represents the apogee of Corvette street performance. With a sixth-generation Corvette a year away, enthusiasts will find the Commemorative Edition ZO6 a worthy sendoff for the highly acclaimed and successful fifth-generation.