C8.R in LeMans?
As Corvette Racing prepares to contend its 19th 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the hopes of producing a ninth GTE-Pro class win, Dailysportscar had the opportunity to sit down with Program Manager Doug Fehan to chat about what lies ahead after Le Mans 2018. It was during this conversation that Fehan suggested the team would stick with the current Corvette C7.R race car design at Le Mans through at least 2019, largely because the rules likely wouldn’t allow for anything else.
“Eventually there will be an eighth generation Corvette, but right now I don’t know when that’s going to be,” Doug Fehan told Dailysportscar. “I can assure everyone that, when it comes out, we will be racing it.” That said, according to Fehan, the future C8.R can’t possibly appear at Le Mans 2019, even if it is ready for competition by then, as the FIA World Endurance Championship – the racing series that the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a part of – this year moved to a two-year “Superseason” spanning from spring 2018 to summer 2019.
“I don’t think the regulations allow it,” Fehan says. “With the advent of the ‘Superseason’ and the timing of the way the rules read, I don’t think we’d be able to homologate anything next year. We’ll be running what we’re running now.”
During the interview, the Corvette Racing Program Manager also denied knowing whether the next-generation Chevrolet Corvette road car would use a front- or mid-engine configuration. “I look over at our friends from Ferrari, who have introduced their fastest production car ever, and they’ve done it with a front-engined car,” he said. “So there’s a lot of speculation whether or not the next Corvette will be mid-engined. But we won’t find that out until we know when, or if, they’re going to build one.”
But regardless of whether the C8 ends up being a mid-engine car (it will), Fehan doesn’t think there’s much chance of Corvette Racing ever competing in the full FIA WEC season, for the simple reason that money is limited, and the series is primarily European.
“General Motors is a huge conglomerate of brands, divisions and companies. They all run separately but are owned and run by the same people, there are just completely different silos… This program is driven by Chevrolet of North America, and we have a limited budget, and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the North American budget to support things going on in other countries.”
Doug Fehan didn’t completely close the door on full-season WEC involvement from Corvette Racing, though, telling Dailysportscar: “If we could get some of those other countries to participate, and find the value in it, then I’m sure we could run a global programme in the WEC. But that would take separate GM companies coming together, which isn’t easy to do. Le Mans is the exception because it’s the holy grail of all of motorsport.”