Back in 2008 General Motors announced with great fanfare that its factory-backed motorsports team, Corvette Racing, would be using E85 ethanol for a majority of its races in the American Le Mans Series. This “green” fuel of the future was being hyped as the solution to rising gas prices, ans as a performance booster to boot, but ethanol has fallen out of favor with both automakers and environmentalists.
The WeatherTech United SportsCar Championship will now allow competitors to use an E20 ethanol blend, the same blend used at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, throughout the entire 2016 season. And guess who’s making the switch?
According to SportsCar365, one of the teams ditching E85 is Corvette Racing. The C7.R race car will now be running a blend of 20 percent ethanol and 80 percent gasoline, rather than 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gas as it had been doing. While regulations still allow competitors to use E85, and racing series officials hope some teams still do, there was a request from manufacturers to allow the use of E20 as well.
It all goes back to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which allows a wide range of different powertrains and fuels, including hybrids and diesels, but not E85. This means teams like Corvette Racing had to recalibrate their engine management software before the big race, and when you’ve been running one kind of fuel all year only to make that switch, it can bring about unforeseen problems.
Not that it hurt Corvette Racing, which took the GTE-Pro class victory at the 83rd running of Le Mans.
Joining Corvette Racing in running E20 will be the new Ford GT race car, which hopes to conquer Le Mans in 2016 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its legendary victory over Ferrari. 2016 is already looking to be an interesting competition, and it’s not even November.