The concept of ouroboros is ancient day one stuff. The image of a snake consuming its own tail is meant to symbolize the eternal cycle of life, re-creation begins with endings. When one thing dies, another is born. This is exactly what the development of the LT6 V8 in the new 2023 C8 Corvette Z06 has been all about.
In death, the C7 Corvette ZR1 brought us the ultimate expression of the traditional long-nosed FR Corvette layout thanks to its crazy 755 horsepower supercharged LT5 V8.
But then, here came the C8 Corvette with the motor moved behind the cockpit–just as daddy Zora Arkus-Duntov had always intended–which subsequently moved the performance goalposts too.
Shortly after Chevrolet unveiled the C8.R in late 2019 the whispering started. The radical 5.5L flat-plane DOHC V8 powering the new race car would eventually make its way to a production car. This was a departure for Corvette Racing as well, the Pratt & Miller run squad had been racing with the same 5.5L pushrod V8 for the better part of a decade.
Then came the C8 Corvette Z06, and surprise, surprise, there it was: a brand new 5.5L DOHC LT6 V8 spinning a flat-plane crankshaft and producing some 670 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. It’s a 10-second car out of the box.
So now, after less than two years on the market, the mid-engined C8 Corvette had laid waste to everything the long-nosed Corvette had ever accomplished. But things weren’t finished there. Enter the Z06 GT3.R, a turn-key, production-based GT3 race car that would be sold to whoever wanted one and showed up with enough money.
According to GM sports car racing program manager, Laura Wontrop Klauser, the Z06 GT3.R neatly completes the development of the C8 Corvette Z06’s LT6 powertrain. According to Klauser, the Corvette C8.R GTE helped develop the C8 Z06 production car, which then became the basis of the Z06 GT3.R which will ultimately replace the C8.R when it arrives in 2023.
“We did not plan that,” Klauser told SportsCar365. “It was just a nice way that worked out. When we launched the C8.R, we thought we’d be able to race it for a couple more years than we could. It is what it is.”
Thanks to a change in regulations from IMSA and the ACO, the current GTE class will cease to exist, with the future of high-end GT racing stepping down a rung to GT3 spec. The current C8.R will soldier on for another year but with significant modifications to meet GT3 regulations.
“The engine is going to be significantly more production-based. But considering the C8.R was our testbed for the [LT6] production engine, it creates a very nice circle for how that worked out.” Klauser elaborated.
“The flat-plane crank, that all stays the same. [It’s] around the same size and about the same package. We’re going to be able to pull in more production content that’s now available for us to use that was not when we started doing the C8.R’s engine.”