2020 Corvette C8.R: The Mid-Engine Chevy Corvette C8 Racer Officially Debuts!

The new Corvette race car gears up for the track.

It's official: The new C8.R race car's mid-mounted V-8 is a dual-overhead-cam design and incorporates a flat-plane crank! In the midst of scheduled practice for this year's Petit Le Mans, the Corvette Racing and engineering team officially revealed the all-new Corvette C8.R GTLM race car to the world—a quick first look was provided at last week's debut of the regular 2020 C8 convertible—giving us precious details on what to expect when the C8.R makes its race debut at next year's 24 Hours of Daytona.

While the C8.R's 5.5-liter V-8 has a similar displacement to the outgoing car's engine, the C7.R used a traditional pushrod cam-in-block design rather than the more modern DOHC and flat-crank setup. Thanks to standardized intake restrictors, the C8.R's output of 500 horsepower and 480 lb-ft isn't radically different from that of the 491-hp C7.R, although expect both the power delivery and torque curve to be altered.

Though comparisons between the recent Cadillac Blackwing dual-overhead-cam V-8 are inevitable, engineers claim "the two engines are not related, but there may have been things we learned when developing the Blackwing." Power is sent to the rear wheels through an Xtrac six-speed sequential transmission, the same type found in the old car, albeit with much different packaging. When prompted as to why the roadgoing C8's Tremec dual-clutch wasn't retained, engineers cited the Tremec's bulk and weight as the limiting factors. No surprise there.

If you're surprised at the quick turnaround between street-car debut and the race car, don't be; according to the Corvette team, both the road and race car were developed at the same time. As such, of the 100 structural components in the C8.R, 80 of them are shared directly with the regular 2020 Corvette. Aside from provisions for the mandated steel roll cage, all the structural guts between the axles are identical.

That means most of the stuff up front and out back are bespoke to the race car, including the replacement of the frunk with a radiator, and adding a decklid intake for the new engine. According to longtime Corvette racer Tommy Milner, the new mid-engine layout is a bit more comfortable inside the cockpit, as there isn't a pesky engine firewall cramping the footwell. Other changes from a front-engined layout include a more immediate sensation of turn-in and better visibility, and the drivers are better equipped to manage understeer.

Surprisingly, this is the first time Milner has ever raced a mid-engine car at a serious level, though it wasn't exactly difficult to make the transition. "It's a really good car. All the drivers have been happy with it. So far, knock on wood, we haven't had any major issues," said Milner. "For us race drivers, the newness of the car wore off within five test laps, and we immediately shifted to what it needs and what to change."

We're not going to see the car race until next year, but one thing's for certain: That iconic C7.R rumble that made it a crowd favorite is gone. Corvette Racing assures us it isn't another Ferrari soundalike, but don't expect it to share much tonality with the street C8's pushrod LT2. We asked Milner if the team is sad to lose that fan-favorite thunder: "While this one does sound different, and fans do connect that sound to Corvette Racing, this is what we have and what we're racing. This will build its own legacy, and maybe it's the right time to have a little bit different sound, and change the fundamentals of the car in some ways." That said, it will still be easy to pick out from the crowded GTLM field. The debut silver C8.R with yellow accents will be campaigned alongside the No. 3 C8.R, the latter wearing traditional Corvette Racing yellow with silver accents.

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