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CORVETTE RACING AT BAHRAIN: Top-Five Result for Keating

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CORVETTE RACING AT BAHRAIN: Top-Five Result for Keating

One last ride for Corvette C8.R in GTE race finale



SAKHIR, Bahrain (November 3, 2023) – Corvette Racing will close its FIA World Endurance Championship season with a third-row start in the GTE Am field for Saturday’s Eight Hours of Bahrain.



Ben Keating set a best lap of 1:59.412 (101.408 mph) during Friday’s 15-minute session to qualify fifth in the No. 33 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R. As he has all season, Keating will team Saturday with fellow GTE Am champions Nicky Catsburg and Nico Varrone with the trio going for its fourth win of 2023.



The Thursday and Friday practice sessions were each in dramatically different conditions, which – if nothing else – gave the Corvette team and the rest of the WEC paddock and opportunity to explore a variety of setups and options ahead of Saturday’s 2 p.m. local start.


Thursday’s practice was interrupted first by a severe wind and sand storm and then by a steady rain shower. The day’s night practice was in dry and cooler conditions while Friday’s practice and qualifying sessions were in more typical conditions for Bahrain – hot and sunny. The latter gave teams a read on likely conditions for the start of Saturday’s race and the level of tire degradation that will ultimately play a large role in the race’s outcome.


This is the second year at Bahrain for the C8.R, which finished second in GTE Pro in 2022 with Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy sharing the Corvette. Saturday’s race and Corvette Racing’s presence is notable for a number of reasons.


The Corvette team is aiming to cap off a banner season in which it already has claimed the GTE Am Drivers and Teams titles, three race wins – including the 24 Hours of Le Mans – and three pole-position runs for Keating. Another win Saturday 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 victory.


It also would send Corvette out as the final race-winner of the GTE class. One of the mainstays of GTE racing since the category was introduced in 2011, the Corvette program also has been one of the most successful with 48 of its 127 worldwide victories coming with GTE machinery – which also includes North American wins in the American Le Mans Series’ GT class as well IMSA’s GT Le Mans category.


As much of a coronation as this weekend is for the Corvette program, it also serves as a transition point. 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.


As in previous races, the C8.R is running 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 car in class. The Corvette also received 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 live audio coverage of the race.


BEN KEATING, NO. 33 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – QUALIFIED FIFTH: “More than where we qualified, I’m happy with the lap time. That was one second quicker than anything than did in my qualifying simulation. There is so much tire degradation here that it’s a balance between taking care of the tire – because we have to race on these same tires – and trying to hit the peak of the tire. I think the reason I was able to put that lap together was because it was my third one and on the peak of the tire. I kept trying to repeat it, and I couldn’t. It just wasn’t there in the tire. It’s really interesting how my two laps that were closest to that were seven-tenths of a second off. It’s worth that much time. I’m happy with the time but also with the result. Tyler (Neff, race engineer) said before qualifying that he thought a top-five result was possible, and he nailed it.”


Final GTE qualifying session: “I’m sure this will be going through my head the entire weekend. I’m driving around at the end of qualifying, and I’m thinking that this is the last time that I’m qualifying this car in GTE. It’s the last time I’m going to qualify in WEC. It’s been such a special year this year with the Corvette. Even when you qualify fifth and it’s your lowest result of the entire year, it’s still special.”


NICKY CATSBURG, NO. 33 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: “I feel like everyone will struggle with tires here. Historically, this track is really rough on tires and everyone will have that issue. But if you take away that issue, we still have quite a bit of deficit in terms of pace. So we need to understand where we can gain little bits of time to reduce that gap. As always, I do believe that with our lineup we do have a bit of an advantage over some of the other teams. We need to remain calm and be focused on the race. This will be more difficult than all other events we’ve done. I’m just going to do my best for the team and enjoy this last GTE race.”


NICO VARRONE, NO. 33 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: "For me, this place is very special. Not even one year ago, I arrived here for the rest time and met the Corvette Racing team for the first time. I was shy at the beginning, I didn't speak too much and had pressure because I knew this could be big for me. It was a really good opportunity. I had the desire to do well but also some pressure that goes on inside. But everything went well. I got the drive and what has happened after that was amazing - winning Sebring, Portimao and Le Mans for Corvette on the 70th anniversary for Corvette and the Centenary Le Mans. And now we are champions. That's why being here and this whole atmosphere being at this track means so much."


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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