Chevrolet’s new Corvette C8.R could end up competing full-time in the FIA World Endurance Championship by as early as the 2020-21 season, with multiple customer-based projects under consideration.
Sportscar365 has learned that at least two parties are actively evaluating potential GTE-Pro and/or GTE-Am efforts with the Pratt & Miller-built mid-engined car, which will make its competition debut in the Rolex 24 at Daytona later this month.
Team MTEK, which ran BMW’s factory FIA World Endurance Championship program in 2018-19 season, is understood to be one of the potential teams, along with interest from longtime IMSA-turned WEC competitor Ben Keating.
MTEK boss Ernest Knoors attended last weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 and held discussions with Corvette Racing staff and engineers during the pre-season test.
When asked by Sportscar365 if a Corvette program could be under consideration, Knoors declined to comment specifically although admitted his team has continued to work on options to return to the WEC paddock.
“In the end, I think the lesson that we’ve learned from the last program is that it has to be done right,” Knoors told Sportscar365.
“If we can find the right set of circumstances it [a GTE customer program] would for sure be something that we would like to do.”
Keating, who currently leads the WEC GTE-Am points standings in a Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR, has also expressed interest for the 2020-21 season.
“I have always said I really like to race something I sell,” he told Sportscar365.
“I think racing the new C8.R would be incredible. If GM wants a car in WEC then I’d love to be part of it.
“I think I would represent the brand extremely well. It seems crazy to even consider, but it would be awesome.”
Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan said they’d be “happy” to accommodate any potential customers, although admitted it could be a question of timing.
The manufacturer currently has three C8.Rs in existence, with its test chassis likely to be put into action for next month’s Lone Star Le Mans WEC round at Circuit of The Americas.
“How quickly could we build one? These things take time to build. It’s not like we have an assembly line set up,” Fehan told Sportscar365.
“We would certainly entertain any interest that anybody would have.”
Fehan confirmed they’ve come close to having a full-time WEC customer in recent years following Larbre Competition’s departure in 2016.
“We’ve worked hard over the last four or five years to try and find somebody who would run in WEC. We’ve come close a couple of times,” he said.
“We had a really close relationship with Jack [Leconte]. He decided to go a different direction.
“Jan [Magnussen] worked real hard. He had a couple of guys lined up that we came pretty close to getting a deal put together for last season. It didn’t come to fruition.
“We haven’t just stuck our head in the sand. We’ve tried to leverage opportunities as they come to us to try and put something together.”
Knoors, meanwhile, said that he would need to decide on a program by the end of January if they were to enter the 2020-21 WEC season.
However, with the entry deadline in May, it could theoretically give other parties additional time to decide.
Full-Season Factory WEC Program Not Under Consideration
Fehan has ruled out mounting a full factory program in the WEC for the time being, largely due to the funding that would be required from different regions within the multi-national company.
“It comes down to understanding how the corporation is structured,” he said.
“This [IMSA and Le Mans program] is all funded by GM North America. GM on the other continents are seperate entities.
“They all answer to the same boss but they’re different companies and have different structures and budgets.”
However, with the Corvette road car set to be offered in right-hand drive for the first time and production recently increased at its factory in Bowling Green, Ky., Fehan hinted that it could spur on interest from other regions to support such a program in the future.
“There’s more potential there now than there has been,” he said.