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CORVETTE RACING AT PORTIMÃO: What to do for an Encore?

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No. 33 Corvette looks to continue early-season momentum after Sebring win


CORVETTE RACING AT PORTIMÃO: What to do for an Encore?
No. 33 Corvette looks to continue early-season momentum after Sebring win

DETROIT (April 10, 2023) – It’s a new track for Corvette Racing in the FIA
World Endurance Championship this weekend, but the team is hoping for a
familiar result in its second race of the season.


Nicky Catsburg, Ben Keating and Nico Varrone will look for consecutive GTE
Am victories in the No. 33 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R when
Corvette Racing visits Portugal for the Six Hours of Portimão.


The trio of drivers claimed a convincing victory in the 1,000 Miles of
Sebring in their first race together to grab the early-season lead in the
GTE Am Drivers Championship. It also was Corvette Racing’s first win in its
first season of GTE Am competition. But rather than a familiar track where
the program has thousands of miles of testing under its belt, Portimão is an
unknown commodity.


The 2.891-mile, 15-turn circuit is new to the Corvette Racing team but not
new to the WEC calendar, having played host to the championship in 2021. It’s
also not new to the three Corvette Racing drivers, each of whom have
competed previously at Portimão in WEC competition and other racing
championships.


Varrone is the most recent driver having time at Portimão, having contested
the European Le Mans Series in 2022 at the circuit. Keating was part of the
GTE Am field at the circuit in the 2021 WEC event. For those who enjoy
trivia, Catsburg drove a Corvette C6.R in the 2011 FIA GT1 Championship.


Although there is no real-life experience at Portimão from a team
perspective, the Corvette program has done its homework in the virtual world
with Driver in the Loop simulator sessions at the GM Tech Center in
Charlotte with Keating getting a couple of days work in during the last two
weeks.


After Portimão, Corvette Racing will contest the final five rounds on the
WEC on tracks where it gained valuable experience in last year’s
championship with the mid-engine C8.R.


The Six Hours of Portimão for the FIA World Endurance Championship is
scheduled for 7 a.m. ET / noon Western European Time on Sunday, April 16.
MotorTrend and MotorTrend Plus will provide both live television and
streaming coverage. Radio Le Mans will stream audio coverage of qualifying
and the race.


NICKY CATSBURG, NO. 33 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: “Portimão
for us will be a huge challenge. It’s a new track for the team. Usually some
of the teams that have had cars there before in other championships like
ELMS may have a bit of an advantage. It will be a steep learning curve for
us. There won’t be as much practice time as there was at Sebring. Nico was
there last year so he will be someone Ben and I can learn from. We’ve had
the best season start possible so we’re all very much looking forward to
seeing what we can do at Portimão. It will be more difficult here. Some of
our competition at Sebring eliminated themselves, and I don’t think that
will happen again. We need to be on-point but I feel like have the right
team and right drivers for this race. Let’s continue where we left off at
Sebring.”


BEN KEATING, NO. 33 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: “I’ve only
been to Portimão once for a race event. It was a track that was very hard
for me to feel like I had learned it and was up to speed. After the three
practice sessions and qualifying, I still didn’t feel that way. I remember
getting on the radio after my first stint and saying that I’d like to start
the whole weekend again right now. That’s how long it took me to be
comfortable. It’s not an easy track to learn. It’s very different. We will
put more energy into our tires at this track than any other track we go to
by a significant amount. There is a ton of elevation change, a ton of
off-camber and blind corners. It takes a long time as a driver to feel like
you have this place figured out. But that’s also what makes it fun.
“Every car has a track that it likes and doesn’t like. I just think the
handling of the Corvette and where we can carry a higher minimum speed
around these low-speed, technical corners. We can carry the momentum better,
we can handle the elevation change better and can handle the off-camber and
off-balance corners better. I’m really excited about going to Portimão in
the Corvette and having one race weekend there under my belt.”


NICO VARRONE, NO. 33 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: “I’m really
looking forward to the second round of the WEC at Portimão. We had a great
start to the season at Sebring in our home race and on home soil for the
team. Getting the victory there is the perfect start to our season. I really
want to thank everyone at Corvette Racing for the amazing welcome at
Sebring. The first race was special. There were a lot of nerves but everyone
on the team – the engineers, the mechanics, everyone there – made me feel
really comfortable. Now we’ll go for more at Portimão!
“Portimão for me is a track where I have a lot of good memories in my short
career. The circuit is very much like a roller coaster, so I think for every
driver it’s fun. As a team, we have a lot of confidence. Based on what I
know, I think this should be a good track for us. We have the success
ballast for being the championship leaders and winning at Sebring, so that
will be a little bit of a disadvantage for us but we have a great team and
great lineup. I’m really confident. The aim is to try and score the most
amount of points possible. For sure, we are going for the win but if we can’t
do that then we will maximize our result and keep getting points for the
championship.”


2023 FIA World Endurance Championship – GTE Am (After two 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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