• Jun 12, 2023
  • Pratt Miller

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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.


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