Race-bred Corvette Z06 rumored to get grippy Michelin rubber, center-exit exhaust

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Brandan Gillogly

Chevrolet hasn’t even fulfilled all of its orders for 2020 Stingrays and we’re already looking forward to what sort of tricks the C8’s engineers have in store for future performance models that are in the pipeline.

Musclecarsandtrucks.com claims to have a source that confirms Chevrolet’s next track-slaying Z06 will use a set of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R with the same dimensions as those found on the 991 Porsche 911 GT2 RS and GT3 RS. Those tires measure at a reasonable 275/30R20 and a steamroller-like 345/25R21. Those rubber will likely tuck underneath a wider body, just as previous iterations of the Z06 have worn wider fenders and quarter panels. With any luck, the fantastic lines of the C8.R will be the primary inspiration.

The C8 Z06 could also bring some interesting active aero into production, first hinted at in 2018 by several patent filings. Included in those patents, which were shown on drawings using a C7 Z06 stand-in, were active side skirts that move up and down to alter their aerodynamic properties. Another patent shows wings mounted either on the decklid or on the roof-mounted to tracks that can move the wing forward or aft. Those wings can be tilted to lower drag or increase downforce based on laser, ultrasonic, and accelerometer sensors that keep tabs on the car’s speed, ride height, and yaw, among other parameters.


The other tasty tidbit is that team Corvette could be pushing for a center-exit exhaust on the Z06. From the C5 in 1997 to the last C8 in 2019, Corvettes have used a center-exit exhaust, but the C8 changed that. Callaway has teased a new rear valence and exhaust that returns the Corvette to those roots. Reportedly, the center mounting helps the sound coming from the naturally aspirated flat-plane crank V-8 that is rumored to power the Z06.

Callaway Corvette rear valence teaser

If we’re allowed to speculate on our own, the center exhaust could also point to another option: a cross-plane crank. Despite predictions that the C8 Z06 will use a 5.5-liter flat-plane crank version of the DOHC engine that made its race debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January, Chevrolet is under no holy duty to bring that precise engine to production. In order to keep the FIA and IMSA happy, the C8.R’s engine has to be based on a production engine, but that doesn’t mean its displacement or its crankshaft geometry must carry over. In the brief view that we got at Daytona, the Corvette’s engine has a generous bore spacing and massive exhaust ports that could support more displacement.

A center-exit exhaust could make it easier to package an exhaust system that groups cylinders 1, 4, 6, and 7 along with cylinders 2, 3, 5, and 8. That would place each cylinder’s exhaust pulse at an even interval, thereby improving volumetric efficiency and power output. It would also get a unique sound that’s similar to a flat-plane crank without the vibration problems associated with it, allowing the Corvette to use a higher displacement engine than would otherwise be possible. On the other hand, it would make it difficult to position catalytic converters close to the cylinder head, where they’re friendly for emissions regulations and a quick warm-up. A “bundle of snakes” exhaust system would also likely compromise the C8’s practicality by encroaching into the trunk. We’d hoped to see that kind of exhaust on the C8.R and were proven wrong. (Forgive us for bench racing.)

As is tradition, we expect the Z06 to be the most potent track car available in its price range. Until we get more details on the engine, we’ll have to be content knowing that the next-gen Z06 is coming soon and that it will be packing some of the grippiest tires on the market. Beware lap records, Team Corvette is coming for you.


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