The C8 Corvette version that Chevy needs to built ASAP
A C8.R for customer use and a racing programby Ciprian Florea, on
The 2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette is a massive departure from its predecessors, mostly because it features a mid-engine architecture. This layout makes it faster, more stable, more nimble at the track, and moves the Corvette nameplate into a new segment. The American sports car can now compete against high-performance vehicles like the Ford GT, Ferrari F8 Tributo, Lamborghini Huracan Evo, and the Audi R8. Having entered a new niche with the Corvette, Chevrolet still has a few important things to do. Read that as "new cars to release." New high-performance Z06 and ZR1 models are definitely underway, but the 2020 C8 Corvette needs more than that. Given the competition it has to go against, the Corvette needs to spawn a track-only version for customers — a C8.R for customers if you will — and maybe even a customer racing program. Find out why this needs to happen below.
Track-only supercars for customers are a big thing!
Back in the day, customers took their road-legal supercars to the open track days in order to put them through their paces. Buyers still do this today, but many carmakers are now offering track-prepped versions of their road-legal supercars. Some of them are still legal for road use, but the really cool versions are restricted to closed race tracks only. It was Ferrari that started this trend with the Enzo-based Ferrari FXX and the 599XX, but other carmakers joined in on the fun recently.
McLaren has offered a handful of track-only customer cars in recent years, starting with the P1 GTR.
The newer Senna also comes in a GTR version, but McLaren also offered a Sprint variant of the now-discontinued 650S. Needless to say, a Sprint version of the 720S could also happen in 2020.
Aston Martin, for instance, built the Vulcan. Although it’s not based on any existing car, it shared some underpinnings with the One-77 limited-edition supercar. Restricted to track use only, the Vulcan delivers up to 820 horsepower. And unlike the Ferrari FXX-K or the McLaren P1 GTR, it remains with the customers between track-day events.
Ford is the latest company that joined this niche with the GT Mk II. Based on the road-legal GT supercar, the GT Mk II is a track-only vehicle that was named in honor of the GT40 Mk II from the late 1960s. The car is 200 pounds lighter than the road-legal model, limited to only 45 units, and more expensive than any other Ford developed up until now.
|Ford GT||Ford GT MK II|
|Horsepower||647 HP @ 6,250 RPM||700 HP @ 6,350 RPM|
|Torque||550 lb-ft @ 5,900 RPM||TBA|
|Top Speed||216 mph||TBA|
|0-100 km/h||4.0 s (estimated)||TBA|
Naturally, these aren’t the only customer track-only cars available on the market. These are just the more important names in this niche and they prove that track-only versions of road-legal supercars are a big thing. These vehicles are significantly more expensive, they sell out quicker, and they add performance credentials to any brand. All these feats would help Chevrolet turn the Corvette into an authentic supercar.
A Corvette C8.R For Private Use
Chevrolet has yet to produce a track-only car for customer use, but it has a solid starting point in its Corvette-based race car. Chevy has been racing Corvettes since the 1950s and had quite a few programs for the sports car. While the C1 had a rather minor presence on the race track, the C2 became a prominent figure thanks to the Grand Sport program envisioned by Zora Arkus-Duntov. Developed as a competitor for the Ford Shelby Cobra, the Corvette Grand Sport had little support from Chevy and thus remained a small skunkworks project. However, the Grand Sport was raced eventually and returned notable results in the United States.
The C3 that followed made impressive appearances at Le Mans, Sebring, and Daytona with a racing livery, but most efforts were from privateers. Chevy made its first serious efforts on the racing scene with the C4, which was included in the company’s racing program for the IMSA GT Championship. Granted, the GTP-class Corvette shared very little with the production C4, but the project had a big promotional impact. Some of the car’s aerodynamic features were later used on production models.
The Corvette’s insanely successful racing career started with the C5, the first to feature an R-spec version. Built by Pratt & Miller and GM, the Corvette C5-R became one of the most dominant cars in GT categories, with wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, and 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as championships in the American Le Mans Series. While the C5.R was based on the entry-level Corvette, the C6.R that replaced it shared features with the Z06. Having switched to the GT1 class, Chevy won four consecutive titles in the American Le Mans Series and three class victories at Le Mans. The GT2-spec C6.R that followed, this time based on the ZR1, won the ALMS title twice in 2012 and 2013.
The C6.R was followed by the C7.R, launched in the same day as the road-going C7 Corvette.
With this car, Chevy scored the infamous "triple crown" with wins at Daytona, Sebring, and Le Mans and also went on to win the GTLM class of the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. Overall, Corvette Racing scored more than 100 wins with Corvette-based race cars.
With the Corvette name now infamous among racing and brand enthusiasts, Chevy can’t go wrong with a track-only car for customer use. GM could even advertise it as a C8.R for customer use and even design it to look very close to the upcoming sports car. Actually, with such a car not restricted by racing regulations, Chevy could go wild in the aerodynamics departed. The race-prepped C8 could look even more aggressive than the C8 and could pack significantly more punch.
It could be the wildest Corvette yet
With no restrictions from specific racing series, the track-only Corvette could feature some seriously wild aerodynamics. Think about wider fenders, a big splitter in the front, and the largest ever wing used on a Corvette in the rear. The output could be just as wide. By tradition, race-spec Corvettes are only marginally more powerful than their road-legal counterparts. This isn’t a choice Chevy made, but it’s due to racing regulations that mandate a certain power-to-weight ratio. The outgoing C7.R, for instance, had 491 horsepower. Needless to say, the C8.R won’t be significantly more powerful. But in the absence of a specific power-to-weight ratio, Chevy could go wild on this car. And it has plenty of powerplant options.
The R-inspired C8 could feature a beefed-up version of the LT2 6.2-liter V-8 in the entry-level Corvette.
The mill generates 490 horsepower and it could crank out more with the right upgrades. However, it won’t be able to generate notably more than 500 horsepower without having reliability issues. But Chevy can always turn to superchargers and turbochargers. And why not, it can even borrow engines from other GM brands. The twin-turbo, 4.2-liter V-8 from Cadillac generates well in excess of 600 horsepower. Word has it Chevy is working on a new version of this engine for midship use in the C8 ZR1 and it could be used in the track-only Vette as well.
The second option comes from Cadillac as well, in the shape of the 5.5-liter V-8 from the DPi-V.R race car. The latter is a mid-engined prototype, so the engine wouldn’t need big revisions to fit in the C8 Corvette. This mill is rated at 580 horsepower, but turbocharging could take it beyond the 700-horsepower mark. There’s also the much-rumored hybrid layout that could be introduced for the C8 Corvette and I don’t see why it couldn’t be used in a customer track car. Ferrari, McLaren, and Porsche already did it, so Chevy might as well join in on the fun with 800 to 1,000 horsepower.
It could be backed by a racing program
If Chevy builds this car, it could also offer a racing program for customers for the very first time. Just like Ferrari, McLaren, and Aston Martin, Chevy could set up a special program for its buyers that could include driving lesson with drivers from Corvette Racing, special training at the track, and even a series for owners. The latter could include many of America’s iconic race tracks and it could spread over several months and it could be organized just like a full-fledged racing season. Yes, it will get expensive, but make no mistake, Corvette enthusiasts will be more than willing to pay for the experience.
The price of the car could also include special tickets to official events where Corvette Racing races the C8.R, meet and greet events with the company's factory drivers, and access to the plant that builds the C8.R and the track-only customer cars.
It’s the type of entertainment that rich folks with a passion for high-performance cars are looking for.
It will be expensive, but affordable compared to rival offers
The base C8 Corvette might be affordable at less than $60,000 before options, but a track-only Vette will cost significantly more than that. Race cars are expensive when it comes to R&D and materials, so I would expect the track-only Corvette to cost more than $200,000. With all the course benefits and GM’s profit, it could even get to around $300,000. But while this may be expensive compared to the road-going Corvette, it would still be decent compared to what available on the market. Similar vehicles from Ferrari, McLaren, and Aston Martin cost well in excess of $500,000 and some even surpass the $1 million mark. What’s more, Chevy might actually let you take the car home, unlike Ferrari and McLaren, which get to keep their race cars between the events.
Needless to say, the Corvette will enter a new era with such a project, one that would help the brand reach new heights and attract new customers.
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