The mid-engined race car made a surprise appearance at the Corvette Stingray convertible debut, but now we have the numbers.
Chevrolet’s mid-engined racing machine has landed. While the Corvette C8 R made a surprise pit stop at the 2020 Corvette Stingray Convertible’s debut last week, Chevy dished out the details in an official announcement on Thursday.
Here’s the big news: There’s no turbocharger under the hood. Nope, it’s a naturally breathing V8. Per International Motor Sports Association displacement rules, the engine is no bigger, and no smaller, than the 5.5-liter cap on displacement. The new racing power plant spins out 500 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque. That’s 10 hp and lb-ft of torque more than the road-going 2020 Corvette Stingray without the Z51 performance package.
If that’s the big news, here’s the bigger news: Chevy confirmed with Roadshow this is a flat-plane crank V8 with dual-overhead cams. Yeah, this ain’t your father’s Corvette race car.
The crankshaft has been the subject of many C8-generation Corvette rumors. We’ve already dived into how the C8 R sounds almost nothing like the regular Corvette Stingray, and now we know that has a lot to do with a flat-plane crankshaft. It’s been widely rumored the eighth-generation Corvette will, at some point, usher in a flat-plane crank V8 engine. With confirmation the C8 R sports such an engine, the evidence continues to mount.
Homologation regulations call for a GT Le Mans race car’s engine to come from a series production engine. At least 300 of these engines must be produced for a series production car from the same manufacturer.
Have a listen to the C8 R revving. That’s not the deep Corvette thunder we’re accustomed to. That kind of exotic noise often comes from a flat-plane crank kind of V8.
Let’s move onto the rest of the race car. A new and compact six-speed sequential transmission handles shifts and its size made room for a specific diffusor meant for racing duties. Improved aerodynamics, shedding weight and increasing the race car’s stiffness were all engineering goals for the C8 R, and computer trickery made engineering components possible well before production Corvette Stingray parts were a thing.
The race car starts life with a production Corvette Stingray’s chassis before it undergoes modifications for racing purposes to make the car even stiffer. It also sports a lower center of gravity, which helps with weight distribution. Finally, the team worked with Michelin to develop proper rubber for the first mid-engined Corvette race car — 18-inch Pilot Sport GT competition tires.
Given that this is the first clean-sheet redesign for a Corvette Racing race car since 1999 — the C7 R still dates back to the C5-generation Corvette — the team has a lot to prove with its mid-engine pride and joy. Corvette Racing will run a traditional yellow car and one with a handsome silver and yellow livery. The new livery is meant to honor past Corvette concepts.
While we’ll have to wait until January at the Rolex 24 at Daytona to see how the C8 R performs on track, Petit Le Mans patrons will get a first look at the race car this weekend. The new race car will complete a parade lap at Road Atlanta this weekend.
Originally published Oct. 10, 12 p.m. PT.
Update 12:50 p.m.: Adds confirmation from Chevy about a flat-plane crank V8 engine.