We've seen the mid-engine Corvette prototype on the road, but , here's our first look at the version that will take on Le Mans, the C8.R.
Rumors of Corvette’s new C8.R race car being readied to test at Road America were confirmed on Wednesday as the replacement for the aging C7.R broke cover in the Kettle Moraine valley.
Held over from last weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship event, where the factory Corvette C7.Rs finished second and third behind the Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT team, Pratt & Miller Engineering has spent the morning completing short runs with the mid-engine C8-based GT Le Mans machine.
Although unconfirmed, the exhaust note emitting from the camouflaged C8.R around the 4.0-mile road course is said to be unlike the renowned, rumbling V8 found in all of its predecessors. It was suggested a twin-turbo V6 could be fitted to the first production-based mid-engine Corvette race car. Though, based on audio from the test we heard last night (below) it sounds more like Ferrari's V8 than a V6.
The Road America spy photos reveal a rather typical mid-engine supercar. Whether it’s the Acura NSX and its twin-turbo V6, Ferrari’s twin-turbo V8-powered 488, or Ford’s GT and its TTV6, the general layout of the C8 in C8.R configuration does not stray far from the shapes found with the other mid-engine creations.
Of interest with that's visible, the car also sports a few detail differences from the C7.R with exhausts that exit the back of the car. The familiar outlet location in the middle of the rocker panels has been a fixture with the front-engine V8 in place, and in the case of Ford’s TTV6, similar rocker exits closer to the rear tire have been employed. Pratt & Miller—during initial testing—has gone with a rearward solution. New, rectangular mirrors also stand out.
The C8.R’s engine cover is reminiscent of Ford’s GT with louvered vents on both sides and a small, central air duct close to the base of the panel, and the aero treatment behind the rear tires isn’t too far removed from what Ferrari has employed.
Among its IMSA GTLM rivals, the C7.R has achieved unparalleled success since its surprise introduction at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion in 2013. Since its competition debut in 2014, wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Le Mans, and championships have followed.
But with newer models to chase in the 2016 Ford GT, 2017 Porsche 911 RSR, and 2018 BMW M8 GTE, the C7.R has been working from a development plateau in recent years. Help through Balance of Performance adjustments have kept the current Corvette in play while the C8.R has been developed.
Looking to the future, the new Corvette could be restricted to North American competition with IMSA due to the wonky FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) “Super Season.” With the WEC in the middle of a championship that started at Spa in May and runs through next June’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, homologating new vehicles is not, at present, part of its plans.
Once the 2019 Le Mans event is complete, the C8.R would be eligible for homologation and use in competition, but the C7.R would be the only model permitted for use in the 24-hour classic. IMSA, which has made homologation exceptions to allow BMW to race both the non-WEC certified Z4 and M6 in its domestic GTLM class, would likely be inclined to permit General Motors’ new halo car to participate on home soil next year.