Catsburg, Keating & Varrone C8.R CORVETTE COPS CHAMPIONSHIP AT MONZA, takes FIA World Endurance Championship GTE Am title.
Corvette Racing clinched the GTE Am Drivers and Teams titles in the FIA World Endurance Championship on Sunday with a fourth-place finish at the Six Hours of Monza (Italy) for the trio of Nicky Catsburg, Ben Keating and Nico Varrone. The No. 33 Corvette C8.R team finished ahead of its closest championship competitors to wrap up the program’s first title in WEC competition.
It’s been a dream season for Corvette Racing with three victories — the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 1000 Miles of Sebring and Six Hours Portimão — in addition to a runner-up finish at the Six Hours of Spa.
“Congratulations to Ben Keating, Nicky Catsburg and Nico Varrone on their championship in the first year for Corvette Racing in the World Endurance Championship’s GTE Am class,” said Mark Stielow, director, Chevrolet Motorsports Competition Engineering. “This was not an easy accomplishment despite the results this season. The strategy and execution by the entire Corvette Racing team — the drivers, the crew and the engineers — has been excellent throughout the season. This was a deep and competitive class and we are grateful that Corvette Racing has come out on top. It gives us great momentum going into the end of the season and 2024 when the Corvette Z06 GT3.R customer program arrives in WEC.”
There were a number of scenarios in play to clinch the title. The most straightforward options were to win or finish second Sunday, or place ahead of its two nearest challengers — the No. 25 TF Sport and No. 85 Iron Dames entries. The latter worked just fine.Keating set the tone for the Corvette team early. He started sixth but picked up spots on consecutive laps to run third prior to a safety car period at the 15-minute mark. The Corvette crew elected to bring the C8.R into pitlane for a fuel top-off. By the time Keating made his second stop at 80 minutes running, he had worked his way back up to second as the varying pit strategies came into view.
He gave way to Varrone just past the two-hour mark, but a rare in-race mistake meant the C8.R was called in for a drive-through penalty due to speeding in the pitlane. Varrone slid back to sixth but steadily worked his way back to the lead with strong pace and the pit stop cycle. By the time his driving time was complete just prior to the four-hour mark, the C8.R ran third but less than four seconds from the leader.
Catsburg drove the final 92 minutes but was unable to make in-roads to the podium finishers — all of which were from the same manufacturer and ran more than 100 pounds lighter than the Corvette. The C8.R carried 40 additional kilograms of “success ballast” in accordance with GTE Am sporting rules. That is due to the victory in the previous race at Le Mans, 10 kilograms for taking the runner-up spot at Spa (the race prior to Le Mans) and another 15 for leading the championship. In addition, the C8.R received 10 additional kilograms of pre-event weight from the series, making the Corvette 50 kilograms (110 pounds) heavier than how it began the season at Sebring.
The next round for Corvette Racing in the FIA WEC is the Six Hours of Fuji on Sunday, Sept. 10.
Photos: Richard Prince.
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