Road cars and their endurance racing counterparts may look alike, sometimes sharing body panels, headlights, and even engine architecture, but in general, the stripped out, lightened race cars you see competing at Le Mans and elsewhere are nothing like the vehicles you can go out and buy. But Chevy says its Corvette C8.R, which is finally making its 24 Hours of Le Mans debut at the 2021 race, shares more parts with its production equivalent than any other Corvette race car to date. Though that may be true, the list of changes from road car to race car is still extensive. Let’s go over some of the biggest differences between the regular Corvette and the Corvette C8.R that races in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and will be contesting in the LM GTE Pro division at the 89th 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Let’s start with the engine. Motivating the road-legal Corvette is the now familiar 6.2-liter pushrod V-8 codenamed LT2—updated from LT1 in the C7—for 2020. The powerplant makes 495 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque when equipped with the optional performance exhaust. The C8.R on the other hand makes 500 horsepower (no word on torque) from its 5.5-liter DOHC V-8. These two engines are basically polar opposites. The V-8 in the race car has overhead cams and a shaft, which together allow it to rev higher and breathe better. One result of this is its much higher specific output. The LT2 retains the same basic overhead-valve design that GM small blocks have used for decades, and its cross-plane crank means it won’t rev as high as the race car. Though peak torque arrives at a relatively high 5,150 RPM, the LT2 will make most of its torque down low in the rev range. The engine in the race car is more than likely tuned for high-end power to help deliver maximum punch down the long straights of a track. For the full story, check out this article from Motor Trend.