The invitation was a great one: Come on over to the GM Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan, put on your editorial driving shoes, and take to the track in 2012 versions of the Z06 and ZR1 Corvette. That in itself would have been enough to attract any journalist with a pulse, but the clincher was that these wide-body Corvettes would be shod with an optional new, flypaper-sticky tire from Michelin: the Pilot Sport Cup ZP - developed by the same Michelin engineers who develop tires for Corvette Racing in the American Le Mans Series. Think of it as a race tire that also happens to be street legal (after one look at its tread pattern, you'll see what we mean.)
That same look at the tread should also make it clear that the Sport Cup ZP (zero pressure, AKA run-flat) is not optimized for heavy rain, and that's where this whole wonderful driving scheme hit the wall, so to speak. Three days of rain had left standing water on GM's track, so the Chevy PR crew had no choice but to cancel the driving opportunities. We pouted like little children, but still had a chance to learn about the tires as well as some of Corvette's revisions for 2012.
The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup ZP will be the ultimate tire option on the Z06 and ZR1, for those willing to give up treadwear in favor of berserk lateral and longitudinal grip (laterally said to be in the range of 1.13 g.) The earlier, longer lasting, and more all-weather friendly Michelin Pilot Spot PS2 will continue to be available as well.
Other news for the Z06 is the optional availability of the Performance Traction Management system originally developed for the ZR1. This will come bundled with carbon-ceramic brakes and the Sport Cup ZP rubber under option code Z07.
5th and 6th gear ratios have been revised in the ZR1 for up to 2 mpg better highway mileage. In celebration of Chevy's 100th anniversary, there will be a special Centennial Edition option (code ZLC) finished in "Carbon Flash Metallic" paint. The 2012 Corvette lineup will also get a new steering wheel, revised seat foam, trim, and bolstering, as well as a substantially upgraded Bose audio system. Oh, and Corvette buyers will be able to choose between red, yellow, silver or gray brake calipers.