Motown showdown for GTD PRO Corvettes and Mustangs

It’s been a while since a classic Ford vs. Chevy battle on the streets of Motown. Sure, such rivalries may be played out daily on Woodward Ave., but in a proper race, it’s been since the Ford GTs and Chevrolet Corvettes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTLM category faced off on Belle Isle. Before that it was Mustang vs. Camaro in Trans Am, and then back to the CART IndyCar days, with Ilmor Chevrolet and Ford Cosworth powerplants in the back of Reynards and Lolas fighting for Detroit glory.

With both companies headquartered in metropolitan Detroit, the rivalry takes center stage in this year when each have introduced new GT3 cars, the Mustang GT3 and the Corvette Z06 GT3.R. It’s going to be company pride on the line with many employees of both on hand to witness the battle.

The Ford Multimatic Motorsports drivers, along with Mustang GT3 Rs, toured several Ford campuses on Wednesday. And Dirk Mueller was very much looking forward to seeing the Ford GT with which he, Joey Hand and Sebastien Bourdais won the 24 Hours of Le Mans at The Henry Ford museum before getting down to business.


“The pressure’s right there just because we want to be winning and be on pole and winning races coming to Detroit,” Mueller said. “Honestly, I just got goosebumps thinking about it. I get to be together with everybody. We are heading to the Henry Ford Museum. and I are going to see my winning Le Mans car, which is sitting there. We have a full day planned, being with the Ford family, being in the plant. So it’s it’s a huge day coming up, which I’m already really looking forward to seeing the employees and you have a little interaction there. And then you want to extra-perform.”

“You go into Detroit, and it’s a big deal for everybody,” added Hand. “I know we have a lot of Ford people there and Ford family, I’m sure.”

The pressure is on the Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports drivers as well. First, the weekend is called the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Presented by Lear. Second, the 1.654-mile, nine-turn street circuit goes around the Renaissance Center, the site of General Motors’ headquarters. Plus, car builder Pratt Miller is nearby. Like the Mustang GT3, the Corvette Z06 GT3.R has yet to notch its first win in IMSA competition, although it has scored victories in Fanatec GT World Challenge America with DXDT. Nicky Catsburg and Tommy Milner scored the Corvette’s first podium at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in the last outing.

“Obviously we want to do well there, for sure,” said Antonio Garcia, driver of the No. 3 Z06 GT3.R with Alexander Sims. “The target is to win there. We are running around the RenCen, so for us it’s very, very important if we can win around there.”

The Corvette squad has been leaning on its Chevrolet IndyCar Series brethren, who have a already run a race on the new downtown street circuit, although it’s slightly revised for this year. The data has gone into the driver-in-the-loop simulator, so they might have an edge. In the Ford camp, though, Hand ran the Michelin Pilot Challenge race on the circuit last year in a Mustang GT4, so he has first-hand knowledge. Either way, both teams are eager to get their first wins with the new cars, and Detroit would be the ideal place to do it.

“I think it would be great,” said Catsburg. “Honestly, that would be the perfect location to do so. I believe that many of our team members will invite family also, so it would be a great confirmation of the hard work that they’ve done over the last month and obviously a bit of a change for all of us.”

The 100-minute race, the fifth round of the WeatherTech Championship, is scheduled for a green flag at 3:10pm ET on Saturday.

Story originally appeared on Racer