Chevrolet dropped a bombshell this week with the debut of the Corvette C8.R, rolling the new racer on stage during the reveal event for the new 2020 Corvette Convertible. We got an earful of the machine revving, as captured in our video showcasing the debut, which begs the question – what’s under the hood? Chevrolet is keeping its cards close to the chest on that front (yes, we asked), but that doesn’t mean we can’t piece together a few clues.
One thing, in particular, became clear as soon as the Corvette C8.R rolled on stage – this thing is different. The engine note no longer has the same bass-filled thunder as the 5.5L Chevy Small Block V8 found in the C6.R and C7.R. Indeed, this sounds nothing like the 6.2L LT2 V8 in the C8 Stingray. Instead, the new engine in the C8.R has a very refined, high-pitched soundtrack with an almost exotic quality to it, something that is vaguely reminiscent of a Ferrari V8.
Further clues lie in the FIA GTE class homologation requirements that shaped the Corvette C8.R. The rules state that the “engine must be derived from a series production engine produced at more than 300 units and fitted to a series vehicle from the same manufacturer,” which basically means that the C8.R engine will almost definitely be used – in one form or another – in the Corvette C8 streetcar. The most obvious pick for those duties would be the C8 Z06.
We already know that the C8 Z06 will have a naturally aspirated engine configuration, unlike the supercharged C7 Z06. In that regard, an all-atmosphere aspiration typically results in sharper throttle response compared to vehicles with forced induction. When listening to the Corvette C8.R, we hear the racer rev extremely quickly, thereby playing into our theory.
Put it all together, and it’s very likely that the Corvette C8.R is powered by a new, naturally aspirated 5.5L DOHC V8 engine with a flat-plane crank. Meanwhile, a street-legal variant of this very engine will most likely see street use in the C8 Z06. Meanwhile, the rumored twin-turbo variant of this 5.5L DOHC, otherwise known as the LT7, will go into the C8 ZR1. Both engines will be derived from the Cadillac 4.2L V8 DOHC LTA, aka the Cadillac Blackwing, though neither will be the Blackwing itself, as that engine is a Cadillac-only creation.
As for the C8.R, it is shaping up to be a true force to be reckoned with, and will likely dominate when the 2020 season gets underway. We can’t wait.