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Feb 1, 2008
2009 GT1 Championship Edition

Stunning comeback story for No. 33 Corvette C8.R at Le Mans

• Keating, Catsburg, Varrone capture GTE Am class victory

• First win in the final Le Mans appearance for Corvette C8.R

• Crew, engineers, drivers come back from early two-lap deficit

LE MANS, France (June 11, 2023) – Corvette Racing has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans… again!

Nicky Catsburg, Ben Keating and Nico Varrone drove the No. 33 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R to the program’s ninth class victory at Le Mans and first for the mid-engine Corvette sports car.

The victorious trio won for the third time in the FIA World Endurance Championship this season and increased its points lead to sxx with three events and 91 remaining in the season.

“Corvette Racing has won Le Mans in class for the ninth time, and it is even more special during the centenary celebration of this race," said Mark Stielow, Chevrolet Director, Motorsports Competition Engineering. "The skill by the drivers, the strategic decisions by the engineers and the execution of the Corvette Racing pit crew all came together for this GTE Am victory in the final race at Le Mans for the Corvette C8.R. Congratulations to everyone at Corvette Racing!”

This weekend’s Le Mans marked the 23rd start of Corvette Racing’s successful run at Le Mans. Its last victory came in 2015 with the seventh-generation Corvette, although the mid-engine C8.R led each of the last two years. The 2022 race was particularly cruel as the No. 64 Corvette was knocked out of the race with six hours to go.

Keating captured pole position Thursday, the second time this year the Corvette started a WEC race out front. Disaster struck not long after as the Corvette crew had to replace the right-front damper after Catsburg, who started the race, radioed in that something didn’t feel right.

The service in the garage was a quick change but it still put the C8.R down two laps. Class pole-winner Keating – who got in the Corvette while the damper was still being fixed – began to claw back time before heavy rain pelted parts of the circuit.

Keating survived the deluge, and Corvette race engineers called him to the pitlane for wet tires. The race’s second safety car period came out moments later, giving the team hope of gaining a lap back because the C8.R would be ahead of the class leader in a train behind one of the three safety cars. For reasons unknown to the team, a group of cars – including the GTE Am leader – were allowed to exit pit lane before the next of the three safety cars came around. The mistake meant that the Corvette was trapped behind the class leader and couldn’t advance around the track to catch back up after all the safety car queues moved.

Undeterred, Varrone drove a speedy triple stint that saw him make up more than a half-lap on the field with times between four and seven seconds quicker than the rest of GTE Am.

The heroics continued into the overnight session as Keating drove a triple-stint in the middle of darkness and kept hope going for a miraculous turnaround. It eventually came – albeit gradually – through fast laps by all three drivers, quick decisions by the engineering team and fast pit stops by the Corvette Racing crew, which never had to bring the C8.R back in the garage, change brakes or do anything much beyond adding fuel and tires.

Daybreak saw the Corvette come alive as the gap came down to one lap, then two minutes, then less than 60 seconds as the drivers, crew and engineers worked their magic. Critically, the No. 33 C8.R gained a full pit-stop advantage over the other GTE Am contenders inside the final hours to give Corvette Racing a lead they didn’t relinquish the rest of the way.

Corvette Racing’s next event in the FIA WEC is the Six Hours of Monza – where it won a year ago in GTE Pro – on Sunday, July 9.

Corvette Racing media information in both English and French is updated and available ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Materials include, Le Mans race advance and quotes, Corvette Racing stats and figures, Corvette Racing racecar comparisons, Corvette Racing Fast Facts and driver biographies

NICKY CATSBURG, NO. 33 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – GTE AM WINNER: “This is the one race that I wanted. Now I have all the big ones, so this is super awesome. Even yesterday afternoon, I didn’t think this was possible. But somehow we made it back to the front. These two guys drove unbelievably fast and all of a sudden we were back in contention and won with a massive lead. It’s an unbelievable feeling.

“I could see we were very fast. The only really worry was that I didn’t use our Bronze yet. But whenever we put him in the car, he’s just as fast as anyone else. All of a sudden, there was no deficit anymore.”

(Taking the finish at Le Mans): “This was awesome. I’ve never taken the finish here. I didn’t know it was so super-crazy on the in-lap, so that was nice. That it’s the 100th anniversary makes it special. That it’s the last year of GTE makes it extra special. That it’s the last year of the C8.R makes it extra special. I’m so happy for the whole team because I feel like we should have already won it in the years before. So it’s sweet for this to happen this year.”

BEN KEATING, NO. 33 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – GTE AM WINNER: “You can look at all the stats about it being the last year of GTE, the Centenary of Le Mans, the 25tth season of Corvette Racing, an American driver racing an American car with an American team… that even doesn’t do this justice. After the first hour when we had to replace the right-front damper, I thought there was no chance. Even when I went to sleep at midnight angry because we didn’t get our lap back because race control messed up, I thought it was over and I was so mad. To wake up and I think we were running in P4 a few hours later, I was baffled. I didn’t understand how in the world we were there. All of our strategy completely went out the window. We had everything lined up and planned exactly how we were going to do it. Nico got sick and I didn’t plan on doing any driving, and I ended up driving from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. I didn’t plan on doing any driving in the rain, and I ended up having a stint in the rain. Everything got turned on its head. It turned out that it was exactly what we needed to get our laps back. The way we won it is special. To feel like it was out of reach and then watch this team claw back and get victory out defeat’s grasp was really special. It was really nice to feel like I was a part of that. It’s one of those deals where you can look at every member of the team on this win, and you know everyone contributed. That makes it special.”

NICO VARRONE, NO. 33 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – GTE AM WINNER: “I have no words even though it’s only just been an hour from the end. It’s just been incredible. Our race basically started two laps down early, but the team was so fast in managing to repair it. We went back out and had great pace and a great car. The Corvette Racing team, the engineers and strategy, my teammates Nicky – he’s a legend and did a lot of stints and was really quick – Ben – even though he’s a Bronze, he was flying – all of GM and Chevrolet, my family and everyone… there are a lot of people involved in this. It’s a dream come true.”

(On garage reception from the crew) "They are amazing. The support I get from them is great. It's like a family here. Every time I jump in the car or when I get out, they're always there hugging me. Even on the pit stop, they are telling me that I'm doing great. This is really good for a racing driver and for your feelings. It's great."

(Did you think you'd be in this position after your first stint?) "I thought it was OK and it's a long race and we would maybe have a chance. But it was really optimistic to think it would be like this. We are in this position and have to try to manage it and get to the end."

Ryan Smith
Judy Kouba Dominick

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