Chevrolet’s new mid-engined C8.R, first revealed last week, will perform a ceremonial lap prior to this weekend’s Petit Le Mans race this weekend. Ahead of the public debut, Chevrolet revealed more technical details of its new car, which will be Chevrolet’s first mid-engine race car to compete in IMSA’s GTLM class and the first clean sheet race car design since the C5.R debuted in 1999.
In compliance with IMSA engine displacement rules, the C8.R will feature a 5.5-liter naturally-aspirated V8 engine, producing 500hp and 480 ft.-lb. of torque.
The C8.R is based on the 2020 Corvette Stingray, and the manufacturer says the C8.R shares the highest percentage of parts between the production and race car than any previous generation.
“It was important for us to develop the new race car alongside the production car, so that each product could properly take advantage of the new architecture,” said Ed Piatek, Corvette chief engineer. “The benefits of this mid-engine supercar, including its incredible balance and connected-to-the-road feel, will be obvious on the street and the track.”
Since certain features of the 2020 Corvette Stingray aren’t necessary in a racing environment, the engineering and design teams found innovative ways to get benefits out of every part of the vehicle. For example, on the C8.R, a single centrally-mounted radiator was placed in the area used as the front storage compartment on the production Corvette. Ultra-bright racing headlights were packaged on the race car where the radiators are located on the production car.
A new compact Xtrac 6-speed sequential gearbox was developed in order to provide room at the rear of the C8.R to package the race car’s diffuser.
“We have looked forward to racing a production-based mid-engine Corvette for a long time,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vice president of Performance and Motorsports. “The 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, we’re excited to begin the next chapter.”
Improving aerodynamics, increasing stiffness and decreasing weight from the previous generation car were all primary focuses of the C8.R development.
The use of computer analytics made it possible to start the design of the race car well in advance of any production Corvette components being available. Chevrolet’s Driver in the Loop Simulator was heavily utilized to evaluate numerous chassis and aero design concepts. The engineering and design teams produced thousands of 3D-printed rapid prototype parts for chassis and wind tunnel testing. The use of these development tools resulted in a race car with improved aerodynamics, vehicle dynamics and weight distribution.
The C8.R utilizes a production 2020 Stingray chassis structure produced in the Bowling Green Assembly plant. The chassis is then modified to meet race series requirements. The new C8.R chassis structure is significantly stiffer and lighter than its predecessor.
With a lower center of gravity and more even weight distribution on the wheels, Corvette Racing worked closely with Michelin to optimize the tire compound and construction to best support the unique traction needs of a mid-engine race car. The C8.R will ride on 18 inch Michelin Pilot Sport GT competition tires.
While yellow continues to be a mainstay of Corvette Racing, it is now joined by a new look for the 2020 season.
The No. 4 race car features a new silver livery, inspired by the color of iconic Corvette concepts such as the 1973 Chevrolet Aerovette and the 1959 Corvette Stingray Racer that pushed the envelope both in design and on-track performance. This car also features yellow accents.
It will be joined by the No. 3 race car in a yellow color scheme with silver accents that continues the lineage of the successful GTLM racing Corvettes.
“Since the mid-engine race car is such a revolutionary vehicle, we felt it would be fitting to honor Corvette Racing’s legacy with both a redesigned, modern livery along with a traditional livery in Corvette yellow,” said Vlad Kapitonov, lead creative designer, Chevrolet Performance Cars. “Both liveries pay homage to Corvette’s Racing storied heritage, as well as the impressive engineering and design milestones that led to up to this extraordinary race car.”
Corvette Racing partners for the 2020 season include Mobil 1, Michelin and SiriusXM.