C8.R confirmed with 5.5-litre V8 | Update

Chevrolet has followed up last weekโ€™s C8.R track footage with confirmation that the racer will use a 5.5-litre V8 instead of the road machineโ€™s thumping 6.2. It turns out that the decision to go with the smaller engine is partly down to regulations set out by Americaโ€™s IMSA series, in which Chevyโ€™s new car will compete, but also due to the fact that power balancing hardware trims output to around 500hp and 480lb ft of torque โ€“ meaning the lighter motor is more than up to the job.

Last week we expressed concern around the flat-plane crank unitโ€™s vocals (in the story below), but new footage suggests it will at least sound suitably muscular in certain parts of the rev band. In contrast to the higher-pitched wail of the first video, in this one we hear proper V8 rumble. It still has nothing on the thunder of the C7.Rโ€™s old small block, but the technical advantages afforded by the C8.Rโ€™s midship setup are enormous โ€“ and might just amount to something to really worry the likes of Ford and Porsche.

With its powerplant now located behind the cabin, the Corvette racing car can utilise the vacant space up front โ€“ which provides a boot in the road car โ€“ for a large radiator, meaning no smaller ones are located further forward, as before. This simpler, closer-to-the-middle location has benefits for mass and weight distribution; as does the introduction of a more compact Xtrac six-speed sequential, which also frees up space for a larger diffuser at the back.

Couple this tighter powertrain packaging with a structure thatโ€™s said to be both stiffer and lighter than its predecessorโ€™s and, well, put it this way: the battle for honours in the Le Mans GTE category is looking very good for 2020. The C8.R will, however, first focus its attentions on the Daytona 24 Hours in January โ€“ expect Chevyโ€™s European rivals to be paying very close attention to how this clean sheet Corvette does at that challenging US race.

โ€œWe have looked forward to racing a production-based mid-engine Corvette for a long time,โ€ said Jim Campbell, Chevyโ€™s vice president of Performance and Motorsports. โ€œThe debut of the C8.R is the result of immense collaboration between GM Engineering, Propulsion, Design and the Corvette Racing team. As Corvette Racing enters its third decade of competition, weโ€™re excited to begin the next chapter.โ€

Previous story: 03.10.2019

The GTLM category of Le Mans is as famous for its varying engine soundtracks as it is for close fought racing. Itโ€™s always had an eclectic mix, but in recent years the Corvettes have provided the most dominating vocals in the class by some margin. Since Aston Martinโ€™s Vantage racers switched to turbocharged AMG power, the C7.R Chevy's front-mounted 5.5-litre small block was the unmistakable ear drum-rattler at the the Circuit de la Sarthe.ย 

Thatโ€™s set to change in 2020, however, with the introduction of the C7โ€™s successor, the C8.R, which officially unveiled in tandem with the Corvette convertible last night. The all-new mid-mounted racer sounds nothing like the 6.2-litre V8-powered road car โ€“ itโ€™s more squawk than thunder โ€“ so although Chevy has refrained from announcing technical specs, we think itโ€™s using the 5.5-litre flat-plane crank V8 thatโ€™s rumoured to be introduced later on. The noise is certainly appropriate for such a lump and the use of the smaller motor in competition would make sense.

While it may not be as pretty (or yellow!) as its predecessors, the new C8.R certainly looks the ticket, with the low-set nose and extended rear deck appearing ready made for the canards, skirts and enormous rear wing of a GTLM racer. Thatโ€™s no coincidence, of course โ€“ Chevyโ€™s switch to a mid-engined layout was partly encouraged by the resulting boost to on-track balance. But for those of us who valued the violent vibrations of a cross-plane crank and pushrod small block, itโ€™s the end of an era.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (11) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Jimbo89 03 Oct 2019

    The decision to switch to a mid-engined layout does baffle me but I've always prefered front engined cars.

    The C7 looks so good, the C8 looks all out of proportion....until you see it as a race car. The lower skirts and big wing don't half sort those odd proportions out.

  • AmosMoses 03 Oct 2019

    Jimbo89 said:
    The decision to switch to a mid-engined layout does baffle me but I've always prefered front engined cars.

    The C7 looks so good, the C8 looks all out of proportion....until you see it as a race car. The lower skirts and big wing don't half sort those odd proportions out.
    They had to do it really, they had reached the limit of what a front engine chassis could handle power wise.

    It'll be interesting to see how the race car fares against the mid engine 911 rsr.

  • SturdyHSV 03 Oct 2019

    That certainly looks fantastic as a racecar, but that's a crying shame it's lost the thunder frown Le Mans really won't be the same without it

  • sandysinclair 03 Oct 2019

    I genuinely thought I was listening to a Caterham 7 here. Extremely disappointing. Probably a half decent drive but put a flat plane in it , that's what you get ... just dull ,lacking in any emotion ... noise ...

  • loveice 03 Oct 2019

    Is this based on the production model or has an unique chassis? Nowadays even the 911 RSR doesn’t share much with the production 911 as it has a mid engine layout vs rear in the production car.

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