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Forget About Ferraris

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  • A carbon fiber front splitter is an exotic aero enhancement on the Z06. - 7
  • The louvered hood is a World Challenge design from Advanced Composite Products. - 8
  • Like the front splitter, the rear spoiler is made of carbon-fiber. It extends the entire width of the rear fascia, unlike the factory Z06 spoiler. - 9
  • The Katech emblem along with the Z06 insignia is a formula for fast fun. - 10
  • The brake system includes 14-inch front rotors with six-piston calipers from Brembo. - 11
  • Body-color-matching valve covers and intake manifold, along with relocated ignition coils, gives Katech’s “breathed on” LS7 visually distinction. - 12
  • Flanking the Halltech cold-air induction are the fluid reservoirs for the Moton adjustable coil-overs. - 13
  • The yellow-painted valve covers with Katech’s plaque gives the Corvette’s engine compartment some appreciated detail. - 14
  • The interior features black upholstery with yellow accent stitching. - 15
  • The racing seats feature leather perimeters with suede-like Alcantara material in the center sections. - 16
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by Barry Kluczyk  More from Author

A Tuner Corvette Z06 Was Just What The Doctor Ordered

Not many of us are confronted with the quandary that faced Dr. Nigel Azer, but it’s probably not a stretch to say we’d like the opportunity. After years of driving nothing but European sports cars, he was growing frustrated with them – particularly a pair of “prancing horses” that were becoming difficult to board.

He was looking for a reliable, visceral sports car to satisfy his need for speed.

“They [the Ferraris] were great cars, but one of them was costing about $10,000 in service and maintenance,” said Dr. Azer, an orthopedic surgeon from the Washington, D.C. area. “That was ridiculous for a car with a 400-horsepower V-8.”

Within the span of a few months, both of the fillies were sold off.

“For all the money, I didn’t believe I got that much in sheer performance from them,” he said. “But, what to get next?”

Dr. Azer considered another, brand-new Ferrari, but was put off by the wait list and likely price mark-up. Some reliability issues with his previous cars also soured him on Italian brands, including Lamborghini. The Ford GT crossed his mind and, being a fan of the Porsche 911, both Turbo and GT3 models made the short list.

“When it came down to it, I wanted a car that was fun and exhilarating to drive on the street, but would be good for track-day events,” said Dr. Azer. “For the money, there was nothing faster than the Corvette Z06 and, compared to the cost of a new 911 Turbo, there was money leftover for modifications.”

With the Z06 seed planted in his mind, he began scanning blogs and message boards for the state of the art in Z06 tuning. That’s when Dr. Azer found metropolitan Detroit’s Katech, Inc. (www.katechengines.com), the company that builds engines for the Pratt and Miller-fielded Corvette Racing C6R team. The company also offers street engine packages and builds high-performance “tuner” vehicles for private customers.

Despite his intention, Dr. Azer didn’t yet have a Corvette when he spoke with Katech about his high-performance plans.

“Believe it or not, finding a Velocity Yellow Z06 in the D.C. area was actually kind of difficult,” he said. “Many of the dealers were still asking $10,000 premiums, but Katech directed me to a dealership near them. I got it for less than the MSRP with a phone deal.”

The long-distance deal meant Dr. Azer didn’t even break in his new Corvette before the mods started.

“It was delivered straight to Katech,” he said. “I never saw it in stock form; I bought it in July [2007] and laid eyes on it for the first time in November.”

During its four-month stay at Katech’s facility, the virgin Z06 received the company’s full “Track Attack” package – a serialized upgrade system comprised of engine, transmission, suspension and body enhancements. It is designed to be wrung out on a racetrack. (Katech also offers slightly milder Z06 performance packages.)

The heart of the Track Attack package is the modified LS7 engine that delivers and advertised 608 horsepower and 570 lb.-ft. of torque. To achieve these numbers, Katech builds the engine with forged, 12:1-compression pistons, re-bushed titanium connecting rods, a higher-lift “Torquer” camshaft (0.615/0.648 lift, 220/244 duration and 110-degree lobe separation), stronger valve springs, titanium ultra-light retainers and an ATI damper.

In the vehicle, the engine is complemented with a Halltech “Killer Bee” air intake, a set of Kooks ceramic-coated headers and X-pipe, a Corsa exhaust system, a high-capacity Ron Davis aluminum radiator, an integrated oil-to-water oil cooler and a driveshaft tunnel heat shield. Dr. Azer also opted for Katech’s snazzy, body-color valve covers and intake manifold, as well as an ignition coil relocation kit. They drastically improve the underhood appearance of the car, giving it an upscale aura commensurate with the engine package’s investment.

Backing the LS7 engine is a RPM Transmissions-modified “Stage V” Tremec six-speed. It is a completely rebuilt transmission that is reinforced with heavier-duty and hardened components, such as solid keys, bronze fork pads, a steel 3-4 gear shifter fork, compressed carbon blocking rings and more. In a nutshell, it’s a gearbox designed for high-rpm gear banging at the track. The transmission is matched with an Exedy twin-disc clutch.

A Quaife differential channel’s the powertrain’s torque, sending it through new, stronger axle shafts and, finally, to Forgeline ZX3R wheels shod with today’s hot performance tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 2s. (The car was still wearing the factory Z06 wheel/tire combo during our photo shoot.) New brakes are located behind the wheels. They’re humongous Brembo Gran Turismo binders, with 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers in the front and 13.6-inch rotors and four-piston calipers in the rear. Unlike the stock Z06’s multi-pad brakes, the Brembos use mono-block pads. Race-worthy AP 600-degree brake fluid flows to those calipers.

The suspension enhancements that are part of the Track Attack package include Moton’s “Clubsport” double-adjustable coil-overs, Eibach springs and Pfadt competition stabilizer bars. It is a suspension setup that delivers exceptional responsiveness to a car already renowned for its razor-sharp reflexes. Driver confidence is enhanced with this suspension, particularly in high-speed sweepers, where the stock Z06 can feel a little vague.

Rounding out the Track Attack package are exterior and interior appointments that are simultaneously distinctive and functional. On the inside, this includes Caravaggio leather/Alcantara-trimmed racing seats with Schroth harnesses (anchored on a Pfadt harness bar). Caravaggio also supplied the hand-stitched, Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel, shift knob, parking brake handle and center console lid.

The Corvette’s blazing yellow exterior is accented with one of Advanced Composite Products’ “World Challenge” louvered hoods, black Grand Sport-style fender stripes, a front carbon-fiber splitter and a rear carbon-fiber spoiler. Along with the Forgeline wheels, the car is certainly distinguished from regular-production Z06s, but in a tasteful, purposeful way. There are no extraneous bits or look-at-me chrome weight adders – just a race-ready aesthetic that will likely go unnoticed to the unknowing, but garner approving nods from the competition.

For all the work performed on the car, Dr. Azer’s time behind the wheel has been admittedly limited – at least as we went to press.

“I got it back late in the year, which isn’t a great time where I live to get the most out of a car like this,” he said. “With temperatures in the 50s or lower, it is hard to get the tires warmed up enough to handle the car’s power.”

That’s not to say Dr. Azer hasn’t dipped into the throttle or put some miles on the Katech-tuned Corvette:

“Two weeks after I got the car, I drove 1,000 miles to South Carolina via the Tail of the Dragon – the famous twisting road at Deals Gap, North Carolina,” he said. “The car was incredible. The fit and finish is outstanding; it has an exotic look and feel and it’s very reliable – no check engine lights or anything like that.

“Foolishly, I was concerned that 600 horsepower wasn’t going to be enough, but I can’t imagine having any more power in car – something I never thought I’d say. It’s almost too fast. Traction is definitely an issue.”

Dr. Azer intends to put the car on the racetrack and explore the limits of its capabilities. But whether on the track or on the street, we’re sure he’s going to spook a few prancing horses with his Z06.

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