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CORVETTE RACING AT PORTIMÃO: Pole Run for Keating, No. 33 C8.R

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CORVETTE RACING AT PORTIMÃO: Pole Run for Keating, No. 33 C8.R

Dynamic qualifying session ends with American out front for start of 6 Hours of Portimão

PORTIMÃO, Portugal (April 15, 2023) – Following up on a stellar showing to open the FIA World Endurance Championship a month ago at Sebring, Ben Keating put Corvette Racing on pole position in GTE Am for Sunday’s Six Hours of Portimão – a new event to the powerhouse GT racing program.


Keating saved his best lap for last in Saturday’s 15-minute session with a 1:41.362 (102.713 mph) pass around the 2.891-mile, 15-turn Autodromo Do Algarve circuit in the No. 33 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R that he will share with Nicky Catsburg and Nico Varrone. The trio already has made a splash this season with a home victory in the 1,000 Miles of Sebring in the first GTE Am event for Corvette Racing.


Algarve is the only one on the WEC calendar that is new to Corvette Racing, although Keating helped team engineers establish a couple of baseline options during his first session at Chevrolet’s DiL (Driver in the Loop) simulator at the GM Technical Center two weeks ago.


Those efforts proved valuable as the team was able to quickly work though some predetermined chassis tuning options throughout the three practice sessions to get the Corvette in shape for Keating’s magical pole run. The work also secured one additional championship point for the No. 33 Corvette team in the GTE Am Driver and Team championship standings.


The Portimão track isn’t the only new element to the weekend. The C8.R is running with an extra 30 kilograms (approx. 66 pounds) of success ballast: 15 kilos for winning the season-opening 1,000 Miles of Sebring and another 15 kilos for leading the class championship, per the GTE Am sporting regulations.


The Six Hours of Portimão for the FIA World Endurance Championship is scheduled for 7 a.m. ET / noon Western European Time on Sunday. MotorTrend and MotorTrend Plus will provide both live television and streaming coverage. Radio Le Mans will stream audio coverage of the race.




BEN KEATING, NO. 33 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – GTE AM POLE-WINNER: “I expected the Ferraris to be up front. In all the practice sessions they were the quickest car, and we weren’t quite sure what we were going to be able to do. I have to give so much credit to the Corvette team. The C8.R has never been to Portimão, and neither has the team. This is not a place where you show up and do well from the beginning. We’ve been making unbelievable, big improvements in the car every time we go out. I couldn’t believe how well the car was set up for qualifying. It’s going to be a big job of managing the tire wear. We made the gamble of qualifying on the soft tires, which we can’t race on but it’s nice to have that little bit of extra grip when you’re doing a 15-minute session for a qualifying lap. It was an exciting qualifying for me, as well. I went across and did what I thought was about as good a lap as I could do, and it was on the pole. I decided to do a cool-down lap because my tires had gotten hot. Then I think (Diego) Alessi in the Ferrari got in front of me and maybe Sarah (Bovy) also. I knew I had to do another big lap, and it was an incredible feeling to put it all together after letting my tires cool back down and put in another great lap. Before the session, Martin (Haven, WEC TV) we talked about if it was going to be another battle between Sarah and myself. I said no way and that Ferrari was going to be up there, and neither Sarah nor I would be up there. I got to the end of qualifying and saw we were P1 and P2; my first thought was that Martin was going to call me a liar!”

Race outlook and starting out front: “That was our decision to go with the soft tires because track position is so important here. I have found that I may be a half-second quicker than the car in front of me, but I can’t get around them. The series also has changed the rules for track-limit violations compared to what we’ve had previously, so I believe track-limit penalties are going to play a big role in the race. It’s really difficult in a GTE car to follow another car and not get track limits in Turn One or Turn Four, especially. So starting up front is going to be a big advantage by just being able to manage your own track limits and control your own race.”


NICKY CATSBURG, NO. 33 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: “It’s gone pretty well. I don’t think it will be as easy as it looked like at Sebring, because it wasn’t easy. We have 30 kilos extra now, so it will be difficult. But if we do the same as in Sebring, make no mistakes and be the best by far in the pitlane then I feel we can get away with a podium here. It’s not going to be easy. The track limits situation will make things harder. If we can manage not to have any penalties for that and the others will, that always helps. Let’s see. We need to keep our nose clean and be focused on the bigger picture.”


NICO VARRONE, NO. 33 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: “This is a really different track from Sebring, to be honest. Sebring has a lot of bumps and this track is a bit more smooth, so that’s a big change. I think we’ve done a great job since FP1. We had big understeer and we needed to straighten that out. The engineers did a great job to turn around how the car is handling. We have a great car right now for the race. They were all productive practice sessions for us. We’re going for the win, but if not we will take the maximum points possible. For sure the aim is always to win and we will give it our best shot.”


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

Driver Standings

1. Ben Keating/Nicky Catsburg/Nico Varrone – 38

2. Christian Ried/Julien Andlauer/Mikkel Pedersen – 27

3. Daniel Serra/Scott Huffaker/Takeshi Kimura – 23

4. Simon Mann/Stefano Constantini/Ulysse De Pauw – 18

5. Davide Rigon/Francesco Castellacci/Thomas Flohr – 15


Team Standings

1. No. 33 Corvette Racing – 38

2. No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing – 27

3. No. 57 Kessel Racing – 23

4. No. 21 AF Corse – 18

5. No. 54 AF Corse – 15


Corvette Racing By the Numbers

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

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

• 19: Number of street circuit victories for Corvette Racing – more than any other IMSA entrant at the circuit.

• 26: 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, 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.

• 123: Victories worldwide for Corvette Racing – 113 in North America and eight at Le Mans.

• 269: Event starts by Corvette Racing since 1999.

• 353,311.01: 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 then some!


Ryan Smith
Judy Kouba Dominick
 

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