Chevrolet’s mid-engined road car is already confirmed to be coming to a Holden showroom near you soon, but a race-hardened GT3 car could also be en route to Australia’s most famous race track.
The C8 Corvette was finally revealed in the metal last week, with the official unveil video confirming rumours that a race car is also in development. Stills taken from GM’s video show a camouflaged C8 with aggressive aerodynamic bodywork and slick tyres attacking a track.
It’s likely this is the C8.R – following the nomenclature of preceding racing ‘Vettes – which will replace the outgoing C7.R.
Built for GTE regulations, the C8.R will then be eligible to compete in the World Endurance Championship, and North American IMSA series, allowing it to take on prestigious endurance events like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 24 Hours of Daytona, and 12 Hours of Sebring.
It’s believed the C8.R is being developed as part of a joint effort between GM Racing and factory team Pratt & Miller, and will use the same naturally aspirated 5.5-litre LT5 V8 as the C7.R, which is rated to 366kW depending on BoP restrictions.
Once the GTE car takes to the track, rumoured to be in time for the 2020 Daytona 24 Hour race, development is expected to begin on a GT3 version of the C8. GT3 regulations differ slightly from GTE in how the car’s aerodynamics and engine performance are balanced, but both rule sets follow the same ethos.
A C8 GT3 would then be eligible to compete in the Bathurst 12 Hour race.
However, a quirk in the Bathurst 12 Hour’s eligibility requirements could mean a C8 GT3 might not be allowed to take on the mountain until 2022 at the earliest. Taking place in February of each year, the Bathurst 12 Hour only allows GT3 cars homologated for the previous year to compete. With a GT3 version of the C8 not expected until 2021 at the earliest, this means GM fans could be waiting a while to see the mid-engine ‘Vette take on Australia’s longest circuit race.
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An Australian assault for the C8 GT3 would make sense for Holden, which uses Triple Eight Engineering to run its factory Supercars team. Triple Eight has begun to dabble in GT3 racing, running a Mercedes-AMG GT GT3 at this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour, with Craig Lowndes, Jamie Whincup, and Shane van Gisbergen behind the wheel. A Corvette racer would be a natural fit for the Gold Coast-based team.
While a move to a mid-engine layout has been on the cards for the Corvette road car since the 1970s, it’s a decision which will have numerous benefits for the racing program.
Under GTE regulations, mid-engined cars like the Ferrari 488 and Ford GT have developed an aerodynamic advantage. It’s the same reason that Porsche’s 911 RSR moved from a rear- to mid-engine layout.