The Corvette C8.R is carrying Corvette Racing to one of its strongest seasons ever in 2020. The new mid-engine racer has taken four wins in five races in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship’s GTLM class and has received an abundance of praise from the team’s experienced roster of drivers – but the future of the sports car program is currently being called into question.
There’s no denying that a big part of the reason the Corvette C8.R has been doing so well this year is due to the lack of competition in the GTLM field. With the two Chip Ganassi Racing-prepared Ford GTs now gone from the series, only Corvette, Porsche and BMW are left in GTLM. Porsche has already confirmed it will be pulling out of IMSA at the end of this season and BMW is believed to be reevaluating its sports car racing efforts, too, which would leave only the two Corvettes in the class for 2021 and effectively spell the end of the GTE/GTLM format in North America.
One potential solution would be to create a new class within IMSA that would see pro drivers like Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia compete in the slightly slower GT3 machinery that currently makes up the series’ GT Daytona class. The problem with this plan, though, is that the Corvette C8.R was designed as a faster GTLM/GTE car and pegging it back to adhere to the vastly different GT3 rules would be a big challenge, Corvette Racing manager Ben Johnson told Sportscar365 in an interview this week.
“As far as changing it, it’s a relatively large task to make sure you’re changing the car, if we were to do that, to the GT3 rulebook,” Johnson said. “It’s not something simple that can be done in a relatively short amount of time.”
“To change a car from GTE to GT3 is not as simple as changing homologation stickers, unfortunately,” Johnson added. “There’s quite a bit of work to make sure you’re meeting all of the technical regulations for the GT3 platform.”
That doesn’t mean General Motors and Corvette Racing don’t want to make it work, though. The automaker is happy with the marketing and branding returns it has seen with its factory-back racing efforts and wants to keep racing the Corvette C8 on the global stage, but some very major discussions with regard to converging the GTE/GT3 classes in IMSA competition and in the global FIA WEC series will likely have to happen if it wishes to keep doing so.
“The future of GT racing is obviously critical to Corvette. We’re committed to it and find a lot of value in professional-level GT racing [being] part of the Corvette product,” Johnson said. “We’ll continue to work with IMSA, the ACO and FIA to build the future of GT racing.”
One positive sign is that IMSA, the ACO and the FIA are currently working on a new set of GT3 regulations, which it may be able to work with the sanctioning bodies with to ensure the Corvette C8.R could fit within them. The new rules will be introduced for the 2023 season, though, so it will probably still be a while yet before we see any such changes made to the C8.R.