General Motors’ confirmation that the eighth-generation of the Chevrolet Corvette, the mid-engined “C8,” will debut on July 18, spells an imminent end to the seventh-generation of the iconic American sports car. As a result, rumors that an all-new C8-based race car is in the works are making their rounds on the internet. But if history repeats itself like it usually does, these rumors about a C8.R stealing the spotlight sometime later this year are quite believable.
Factory-backed race team Corvette Racing currently fields a car called the Corvette C7.R, a front-engined endurance racing machine with a 5.5-liter naturally aspirated V-8 making close to 500 horsepower. Introduced in 2014, the C7.R has since won high-profile races, taking the GTE-Pro class win at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans and the GTLM class win in the 2016 WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. The C7.R is the Corvette’s face in the world of motorsports, and with the C8 on the way, it’s time for that face to change.
According to members of Corvette Forum, Corvette Racing’s Program Manager Doug Fehan has confirmed that the C7.R’s final factory-backed race entry will come this fall at the 2019 Petit Le Mans, the final round of the 2019 IMSA season. They say Fehan has confirmed that the C8.R will replace the C7.R at the 2020 24 Hours of Daytona, which is expected to be held next January.
Like the C8 road car, the C8.R will be mid-engined, but unlike its preceding C7.R, the C8.R is speculated to no longer be naturally aspirated. Footage of a widened, aero-laden C8 test mule captured in December at Sebring International Raceway in Florida has led fans to believe that the C8.R will adopt a turbocharged V-8 with a flat-plane crank.
Rumors of the C8 have suggested the road car will too have a twin-turbo V-8 as an engine option, with some claiming the engine will be the 4.2-liter Cadillac Blackwing engine, and others, that there will be a 5.5-liter option on the table for the next ZR1 (or equivalent).
Said ZR1 is rumored to be in the 900 to 1,000 horsepower range, with “frightening” acceleration that supposedly has made GM consult with legal teams about the risks of selling such a car to any old Joe Schmoe with the means to buy one. Word is that the engine’s power twists the frame so much that the rear glass is popping from the strain.
GM plans to celebrate the end of the front-engined Corvette by auctioning off the final C7 for a wounded veterans’ housing charity. When contacted, the automaker declined to comment on its plans for ending production of the C7, but its statement that the final C7 will be a 2019 Z06 (in black) means the production of the C7 will almost certainly end this year.