There’s Something in the Air Around the Corvette Z06 – John Bednarchik

Five minutes with John Bednarchik discussing the importance of aerodynamics

Many pieces have to come together to create a track monster like the new 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. But while many people worry about what goes on the car to make more power, stop sooner, make more grip, and ultimately drop lap times, John Bednarchik has to think about what goes around the car to gain that last split second. And with the Corvette Z06, he’s done so in spades, giving the car the title of production vehicle with the most downforce ever tested in GM’s wind tunnel.

We sat down for five minutes with Bednarchik, Aerodynamics Performance Engineer, to talk about what all went into giving the car such an honor.

FastLane: What were the main objectives for the aerodynamics when you were developing the Corvette Z06?

John Bednarchik: Our main goal was to maximize the driving experience for the customer. We really wanted to maximize the ability of the Corvette Z06 to stay planted on the track to improve lap times. But, that changes a bit with the different package levels that are available. The standard Z06 is aimed more towards a balance of everyday drivability, fuel efficiency, and performance, and less about all out downforce, while the Z07 package was about making the Corvette Z06 as much of a track monster as possible.

FL: Can you talk a little bit about those different packages, and what differentiates them?

JB: The standard Z06 has a splitter in front of and under the Stingray front lip, which helps manage front lift. And the grille in the front bumper actually allows more air flow with it in place than if there were no grille installed at all. And the rear has a Z51 rear spoiler, larger fascia to make room for more ductwork, and larger rear fascia corner outlets to let more air escape.

The carbon-fiber aero package has an even larger front splitter, and has the center portion of the air dam removed for less front lift. There are winglets on the ends of the splitter, similar to the ones you’d see on road course race cars, which captures the air and forces the front down even more. On the sides there are rocker splitters to reduce drag and manage lift in crosswind conditions. They’re tucked in a little bit farther than you usually see, especially in the rear, which we found has even less drag, and makes it easier for the passengers to get into and out of the car. And finally out back there’s a larger decklid spoiler, specific to the Corvette Z06, which has fixed wicker bill spoilers for even more downforce.

The top level is the Z07 package, which has even larger winglets on the front splitter and includes a front gurney lip extension, forcing the front of the car down even more. It also adds an additional wicker bill spoiler in the center of the Z06 spoiler that’s clear so it doesn’t affect rear visibility, and allows the driver to fine tune the rear downforce to their liking. It’s become the aerodynamics team’s favorite piece on the car, because it lets even privateers get full race team features with being able to adjust downforce for different tracks, or for autocross, or whatever situation they want.

FL: Can you talk about the snorkels that are on top of the rear quarter inlets on the Z06 package?

JB: To really have a good track car, you have to have adequate cooling of the differential and transmission. Richard Berger [Aerodynamics CFD Engineer] came up with about 100 different designs to make sure we got the most efficient design possible. You’ll notice that the outside wall is actually open.  This was done in order to allow the air coming up over the rear wheel arch to enter the inlet. All of this comes together to allow 50% more air flow to the rear components.

FL: How much of the car is influenced by things found on the race cars?

JB: Actually, some of it is carry-over from the Stingray, which was influenced greatly by the C6R.  We took it even further for the Z06 with features like the larger functional hood vent and aggressive aero devices on the front end, like the splitters with winglets and the gurney lips. The rear end is really exciting, though.  We had a fun time developing the Z07 spoiler.  Not only does it look cool, but it gives the customer heaps of rear downforce.

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