The C8.R is a big reason why the mid-engine Corvette exits. The new race car was designed to take on the likes of the Ford GT and Porsche 911 RSR and 488 GTE in the IMSA GTLM class. Chevy hopes the switch makes it more competitive, and since the old car won a few championships with the engine in front, the competition should be concerned.
It’s based on the Corvette Stingray’s chassis, but has a very different powertrain hidden beneath bodywork optimized for the track. Unlike the Stingray’s 6.2-liter pushrod V8, the C8.R is powered by a 5.5-liter overhead cam engine with a flat-plane crankshaft.
That engine design typically delivers a lighter, faster-revving engine than the more common cross-plane crank layout, but comes with more vibration and less torque. In the case of the C8.R, it’s limited by the series' regulations to 500 hp and 480 lb-ft, while the larger Stingray engine is rated at 495 hp and 470 lb-ft.
But what if there were no rules?
We’ll find out soon enough, because Chevrolet confirmed to Jalopnik that the flat-plane crank engine will be used in a future version of the Corvette, put it in an exclusive group of vehicles that includes Ferraris, McLaren’s and the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350.
Speculation is that it will end up in the first mid-engine Corvette Z06 with about 650 hp, but Chevy has not confirmed anything of the sort.
In the meantime, the C8.R will debut in the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.