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CORVETTE RACING AT BAHRAIN: A Corvette Coronation!

cor123

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CORVETTE RACING AT BAHRAIN: A Corvette Coronation!

Final race for C8.R in historic championship season for Corvette program


DETROIT (Oct. 30, 2023) – Can Corvette Racing go out on top to end 2023? That’s certainly the plan as the team goes for its fourth FIA World Endurance Championship victory this year in the season-ending Eight Hours of Bahrain.


It would be a fitting exit for the Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, which will race for the final time in the hands of Nicky Catsburg, Ben Keating and Nico Varrone. Already this year, the No. 33 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette has won the GTE Am category at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 1,000 Miles of Sebring and Six Hours of Portimão.


By finishing no worse than fourth at any race so far, the No. 33 Corvette Racing squad locked up the GTE Am Drivers and Teams championships two rounds ago at Monza in Italy. A fourth WEC win would give the C8.R a total of 21 victories worldwide in 82 events and close Corvette Racing’s two-year campaign in the FIA WEC with a fifth win.


As much of a coronation as Bahrain will be for the Corvette program, it also serves as a transition point for the Corvette brand. The Corvette Z06 GT3.R is slated to be part of the WEC grid next year in the hands of TF Sport for the LM GT3 category while the No. 33 C8.R team transitions back to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship under the Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports banner.


There’s still work to do in the present, however. Corvette Racing finished second in GTE Pro last year in its first race at the 3.36-mile, 15-turn Bahrain International Circuit with stellar drives from both Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy. Armed with that experience and notebook from the event, the goal is to finish one step higher on the podium this time around.


Working in the benefit of Corvette Racing is its perfect 2-0 record in races longer than six hours in FIA WEC competition this year with wins at Le Mans and Sebring – each by at least one lap. It also doesn’t hurt that Keating is a two-time GTE Am winner at Bahrain, Catsburg posted two top-five finishes in World Touring Car Cup a year ago, and Varrone has previous history in the C8.R at Bahrain from last year’s Rookie Test.


As in previous races, the C8.R will run at Bahrain with a level of rewards weight due to its successes earlier this year: 15 kilograms for leading the championship and 10 kilograms for finishing second in the previous race at Fuji on top of 10 extra kilograms added to the car’s minimum weight ahead of the Monza round for a total of 35 kilograms – five less than at the Japanese round but still the heaviest in GTE Am.


The Corvette also will race with a two-liter decrease in fuel capacity and a 0.6mm restrictor adjustment to limit engine power.


The Eight Hours of Bahrain is scheduled for 2 p.m. Arabian Standard Time / 7 a.m. ET on Saturday. MotorTrend and MotorTrend Plus will provide both live television and streaming coverage, as will the FIA WEC app. Radio Le Mans will stream audio coverage of the race plus Friday’s final practice and qualifying.


NICKY CATSBURG, NO. 33 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: “The pressure is a little bit off, but it is a weekend I’m looking forward to. It’s our last weekend together with this team in WEC with the C8.R and the GTE cars. It’s kind of like a weekend of goodbyes. The whole season, you are fighting for something and trying to achieve something, and we’ve done that. But there is always the challenge of winning the race. It is nice we will be crowned champions during the after-season party, so it will be great to be back with the guys again, driving a car that I love to drive, and being with Ben and Nico again.”

(On the legacy of the C8.R): “The C8.R is the best GTE car that I’ve ever driven. It’s such a versatile car that is good at anything you throw at it. Tracks like Le Mans, little tracks, big tracks, high-speed corner, low-speed stuff… the car is just a championship-winner. It’s not just good at one thing, and that’s what makes it so strong. We’ve always been able to adjust our setup and car to the tracks and perform well everywhere. It’s an amazing car. It’s a car that I’ve always felt comfortable in, and it's a car that I will miss driving, although it’s clear that the Corvette GT3 will be similar.”


BEN KEATING, NO. 33 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: “I am looking forward to the race in Bahrain, not only because we’ll be there to celebrate our accomplishments, not only is it the end of a fairy tale season by winning everything in the last year of GTE with the Corvette is incredible. I really enjoy the race at Bahrain. To me, the longer the race the better. It’s been a little while since we’ve had a longer race like that. I enjoy the eight-hour race in Bahrain. Traditionally I have been fairly good there. I would say I have high expectations, but I’d also say that we’ve been up front in every race this season, so why wouldn’t we continue that? We still get to lose another five kilos for this race, which should be a little bit better for us. This should be fun to watch. From what I remember about this track, the tire degradation is really high. I think that’s good for the Corvette. Having raced in the Porsche and the Aston Martin, I think the Corvette handles the tire deg better than the other cars. Once again, I have very expectations for what we can achieve there. I’m looking forward to the whole experience of heading to Bahrain, doing the last race, doing the final celebration dinner. It’s exciting.”


NICO VARRONE, NO. 33 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: “It’s crazy. This has been a dream season. We won a lot of races, won the championship three races early, we won Le Mans as well. It’s been a fantastic season and we’ve had so much fun that it went so far, which is sad a little bit. But we will make sure we enjoy all the time with the mechanics, the engineers and the rest of the team at Bahrain. It will be fun.”

(On his first season with Corvette Racing): “I feel like from the outside, you always see teams like Corvette Racing and I have to say I was really nervous before Sebring. I didn’t know how the team worked, how the car works, how different things were than what I was used to. But I learned a lot on how to work with these guys and how to work with a lineup like this with Nicky and Ben, and also with engineers and mechanics. I’ve also had races where we had to manage the tires and save fuel. I had done that before, but I feel like I maximized it in a good way. I think I’ve gotten better in all those ways for endurance racing. I feel like I’ve learned so much how to set up a car, how I like the car also. It’s been a great season with some really good memories that I’ll remember all my life.”


2023 FIA World Endurance Championship – GTE Am (After six of seven events)

Driver Standings

1. Ben Keating/Nicky Catsburg/Nico Varrone – 164

2. Michelle Gatting/Rahel Frey/Sarah Bovy – 79

3. Davide Rigon/Francesco Castellacci/Thomas Flohr – 73

4. Christian Ried/Julien Andlauer/Mikkel Pedersen – 68

5. Ahmad Al Harthy/Charlie Eastwood/Michael Dinan – 65



Team Standings

1. No. 33 Corvette Racing – 164

2. No. 85 Iron Dames – 79

3. No. 54 AF Corse – 73

4. No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing – 68

5. ORT by TF – 65



CORVETTE RACING AT BAHRAIN: By the Numbers

• 1: As in one team, one manufacturer and one model of car for 25 years of racing: Corvette Racing, Chevrolet and the Chevrolet Corvette

• 3: Positions gained in GTE Pro by Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy in last year’s Bahrain race in the No. 64 Corvette

• 3: Number of GTE Am wins in four FIA WEC races this season for Nicky Catsburg, Ben Keating and Nico Varrone with the No. 33 Corvette C8.R

• 7: Hours difference between Manama, Bahrain and Detroit in the Eastern Time Zone

• 14: Manufacturer Championships for Chevrolet and Corvette Racing since 2001

• 27: Tracks at which Corvette Racing has won races – Baltimore, Charlotte Motor Speedway, COTA, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park/Mosport, Daytona, Detroit, Houston, Laguna Seca, Le Mans, Lime Rock, Long Beach, Miami, Mid-Ohio, Monza, Portimão, Portland, Road America, Road Atlanta, Sebring, Sonoma, St. Petersburg, Texas, Trois Rivieres, Utah, VIR, Washington DC and Watkins Glen

• 34: Number of drivers for Corvette Racing since 1999. Ben Keating and Nico Varrone joined that list with their participation – and victory – in the 1,000 Miles of Sebring for the World Endurance Championship

• 35: Kilograms of success ballast for the Corvette C8.R at Fuji – 10 for finishing second at Fuji, 15 for leading the GTE Am championship and 10 additional kilograms added to the car’s minimum weight by the organizers

• 127: Victories worldwide for Corvette Racing – 115 in North America, nine at Le Mans and three in the FIA WEC

• 283: Event starts by Corvette Racing since 1999

• 6,883: Approximate mileage from Detroit Metropolitan Airport to Bahrain International Airport, one way. That’s a greater distance than the No. 33 Corvette C8.R has raced this year in WEC competition

• 361,214.36: Total number of racing miles completed by Corvette Racing since its inception. To put that in perspective, Corvette Racing is more than halfway to the distance traveled by Apollo 13 – the longest manned spaceflight in history: 622,268 miles. That means Corvette Racing has raced to the moon and more than halfway back!



Corvette Racing at Bahrain

2022

No. 64 Corvette C8.R: Tommy Milner/Nick Tandy – 2nd in GTE Pro


Ryan Smith
Judy Kouba Dominick
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