The Corvette Racing team of Ben Keating, Nicky Catsburg, and Nico Varrone backed up pole position to take the checkered flag at the 6-hour race in Portimao, Portugal. This is the second straight win for the #33 Mobil 1/Sirius XM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, backing up an impressive win at Sebring on March 17th that I reported on here.
In the brief but exciting video below, Nicky Catsburg narrowly fends off the #83 Ferrari and blazes across the finish line first by just a mere .260 seconds. What got the team there is even more impressive. Despite a 30-kilogram “success penalty” in the ballast due to the Sebring win and championship lead, the team rallied together with stellar driving and pit stops.
Second win of the season in LMGTE Am for the #33 @CorvetteRacing.#WEC #6HPortimao pic.twitter.com/zsPErD4Fxq
— FIA World Endurance Championship (@FIAWEC) April 16, 2023
How great was that team behind the drivers, who sometimes are forgotten when the limelight is on the guys atop the podium? With just 50 minutes remaining, Catsburg flew into the pits with the Ferrari nipping his heels but left with fresh tires and a ten-second advantage. And earlier in the race, after Keating had slipped from pole to third on worn tires, the pit crew once again performed flawlessly and spit Keating out in second. Kudos to the Corvette Racing crew behind the scenes!
The team effort and victory are best summed up by pole-winner Ben Keating, who said, “Totally impressed today with the Corvette Racing team. I was completely blown away by their speed on the tire changes, and they did it all day long. Everyone on the whole team did an incredible job. I’m obviously delighted the result but didn’t expect it. That makes it even sweeter.
“It was an interesting start for me. I didn’t mind not maintaining the lead with some of the mayhem in the P2 field. I just wanted to stay close up front, which I was able to do for the first 12 or so laps. I struggled with my tire choice after that. I also had four track-limit warnings so if I had one more we would have ended up with a penalty. I was really worried the whole time that I’d have some accidental track limits. I had to really change the way I drove and be a little more conservative, going down a gear. That’s hard for a racer to do. Thankfully, I feel like I did what I needed to do. Unbelievable stops! This team is so incredible. I don’t know how far ahead Sarah (Bovy, No. 85 Porsche) was from me in the first stint but we came out ahead of them… just an unbelievably great stop and great job by the team.”
Here are the full results for the LMGTE Am class.
If you want to follow the C8.R for the rest of the FIA World Endurance Championship series, here is the schedule. We have an active community on our Facebook page, I would love to hear from you! Douglas B.