Back in July, when we revealed exclusive pictures of the Corvette’s interior, we noted high performance variants have been under development for a long time. We also teased the fact that a 5.5-liter V8 engine was a “secretive staple of a certain facility in Michigan.”
Now, Chevrolet is getting closer to confirming that news as the company has revealed the 2020 C8.R will have a naturally-aspirated 5.5-liter V8 engine which produces 500 hp (373 kW / 507 PS) and 480 lb-ft (650 Nm) of torque.
While that doesn’t sound like much considering the Corvette Z51 has 495 hp (369 kW / 502 PS) and 470 lb-ft (637 Nm) of torque, the engine was designed to comply with IMSA regulations. More importantly, the racing engine is far more advanced as it features a flat-plane crank and dual overhead cams.
While Chevrolet was tight-lipped on specifics, we can confirm a few things the automaker didn’t mention. The engine traces its origins to the GM Powertrain Performance and Racing Center in Pontiac, Michigan and has been a long time in the making. Of course, that isn’t too surprising since the site builds a number of other racing engines including the 5.5-liter V8 that was used in the C7.R.
To a say a variation of the engine is a shoe-in for the Corvette Z06 is an understatement. GM seemingly alluded to this as they said there is a “deeper level of technology transfer between the race car and production Corvette than ever before.” The company also noted the “C8.R shares the highest percentage of parts between the production and race car than any previous generation.”
Getting back to the car itself, the model will make its racing debut at the Rolex 24 in January and is the company’s “first clean sheet race car design since the C5.R debuted in 1999.” It’s heavily influenced by the standard Corvette, but features a number of modifications for racing use.
Among the changes are “ultra-bright” headlights and a centrally-mounted radiator which is located where the front storage compartment is on the standard Corvette. The model has also been equipped with a new six-speed sequential transmission from Xtrac which is compact and allows for the installation of a massive rear diffuser.
Of course, the model also has an aggressive aerodynamics package and an upgraded chassis. GM didn’t go into specifics, but said the structure is “significantly stiffer and lighter than its predecessor.”