Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. This week, Chevrolet debuts C8.R set for GTLM competition next year, Mazda joins the fun in TCR with the Mazda3, Chevrolet upgrades the Corvette Convertible with a folding hard top, and YOUR automotive news for the week.
Chevrolet C8.R Debuts
The Corvette has been racing for as long as it has existed, so this week’s announcement of the latest Corvette Racing effort was a welcomed one. The C8.R will compete next season in IMSA’s GTLM class starting at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. It should eventually make the jump to the more or less identical GTE class in the World Endurance Challenge next season (they just started the 2019-2020 season).
There isn’t much that Chevrolet is willing to tell us about it yet since its competition debut isn’t for another four months, but they did confirm some changes for their livery. Corvette Racing has been running the same yellow cars pretty much exclusively since they formed in 1999. Starting next season though they’ll run the #4 car in this silver with yellow accents scheme while the #3 car will feature a more traditional yellow livery. That one hasn’t been shown yet, but basically reverse the colors on this #4 car and you’ll have the #3.
The other thing Chevrolet confirmed is that there was extensive collaboration between Corvette Racing and GM Design, Propulsion, and Engineering. It’s common for teams and manufacturers to develop the race car alongside the street car, as with the BMW M8 for example. But I have it on good authority from the Hooniverse Super Secret GM Insider Engineer Guy that GM designed and engineered the C8 Corvette as a race car first and then made a street car out of it. A side effect of that is the race car looks infinitely better than the road car in my eyes.
Now the bit that everyone is left wondering on is the engine. Every Corvette race car so far has been powered by a V8 that was loud enough to rattle your innards and the ground you were standing on. This one is expected to be a bit different. The leading theory is that a flat-plane-crank V8 is coming to the high(er) performance variants like the Z06 and beyond. And based on the sound clip we have of the C8.R testing at Sebring last year, I’d say that’s the safe bet for the race car as well.
So there you have it. With the Ford GT pulling out of competition after Petit Le Mans next week, Corvette is once again America’s sole representation in the top ranks of sports cars globally. I have a feeling the new C8.R will make us proud.
[Source: Chevrolet, YouTube]
Mazda Enters TCR Competition with the Mazda3
Speaking of pretty race cars, Mazda Motorsports has announced their new TCR program for 2020 and beyond with the Mazda3. TCR has become a hot new class of sports car racing around the world with the likes of Honda, Audi, Volkswagen, Alfa Romeo, and Hyundai already committed. The Mazda3 will be the newest – and perhaps prettiest – addition when it makes its debut at Daytona next year with a four-hour endurance race.
Using the Mazda3 in hatchback form as the base, Mazda Design America in Irvine, California worked hard to get the car’s aerodynamics compliant with TCR specifications while retaining and even enhancing that signature Mazda “Kodo” design language. It’s an extremely attractive design that works so well with the factory sheet metal that it almost feels like the new Mazda3 was destined for TCR competition. That’s because it was. A return to IMSA and the recently rebranded Michelin Pilot Challenge has been in the works for several seasons. TCR, which is included in that series, has really taken off in the last couple of years as well, so that certainly made their decision easier.
As TCR specifications call for, power comes from a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 350 horsepower paired with a six-speed sequential gearbox. The car was developed with and will be supported by Long Road Racing, the manufacturer of the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup car, so they have those bases covered too. The Mazda3 TCR is homologated to compete in any of the 36 TCR-sanctioned championships around the world and is open to any customer team wanting to take part.
You can catch some TCR goodness in America in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and SRO TC Americas.
Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Goes Hard Top
The racing version of the C8 Corvette wasn’t the only inevitability that came to fruition this week. Chevrolet also showed us C8 Corvette Convertible during a launch event at Cape Canaveral, FL where the “Corvette-firsts” kept coming. In addition to the whole mid-engine thing, it’s also the first Corvette to make the jump to a retractable hard top after going cloth for all these years. This is part of the Corvette’s efforts to go a bit more premium and offer a quieter cabin and cleaner looks, but the downside is that it’s now a $7,500 option over the Coupe – which still has a retractable targa top itself.
The two-piece hard top tucks underneath an aerodynamically-optimized tonneau cover whose shape was inspired by jet engines and stuff. It can be activated at speeds up to 30 mph and retract in 16 seconds. The mechanism is powered by electric motors for the first time (Corvettes were all hydraulic I guess) which they say will improve precision and reliability. A body-colored roof is standard and a black roof is optional.
Of course with the whole mid engine thing, engineers had a few extra things to worry about like how it will interact with the engine bay and the all important golf clubs. Extra heat shields were added to the storage compartment for the hard top and it was all packaged well enough that the worst design standard in the industry is preserved. More importantly, the hard top was designed in a way that the drag is identical between both models when the top is up. All other specifications are the same, except for the weight most likely. Folding hard tops are heavy.
The Corvette Convertible launches late Q1 2020.
What’s your automotive news?
That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so now it’s your turn. If you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.
Have a good weekend.