The #33 Corvette C8.R shared by Keating, Nicky Catsburg and Nico Varrone dominated the GTE Am class in Friday’s Sebring 1000 Miles, finishing two laps clear of the second-placed Proton Competition Porsche.
It marked the US manufacturer’s second victory in WEC competition as a factory team outside of the Le Mans 24 Hours, following its win in the now-defunct GTE Pro class at Monza last year. It also marks the first Corvette win in the GTE Am ranks since the 2012 Shanghai round.
Keating took the start of the race and settled into second place behind the pole-sitting Iron Dames Porsche 911 RSR-19, handing over to Varrone in the third hour before the leading Porsche dropped out of contention when Rahel Frey picked up rear bodywork damage over the kerbs.
The 51-year-old Texan said he was “really proud” that he, Varrone and Catsburg, who took the car to the chequered flag, pieced together a mistake-free run to finish well clear of the competition.
“It was mayhem out there, really,” reflected Keating, who adds a victory with Corvette to his WEC resume after previously scoring wins with Porsche and Aston Martin machinery. “We got the early safety car that kind of changed the strategy up a little bit for us.
“It was not easy, for sure. Our car was sliding a lot more than it had in practice, so it was a lot more to handle and I think that was true for the other GT cars that I was watching while I was either following or looking in my camera to the back.
"I'm really proud of the way we won the race today. If you look across the field and you look at how we got to be two laps up on the field, it wasn't because we were the fastest car. It was because we stayed out of trouble. Almost everybody had some sort of issue.
“Especially as the race wore on, it really got into one line and the track got more difficult. I'm just really proud of all three of us that we were able to have a clean race.
"It's really special for me to be driving something I sell and to be representing an American brand and winning the only American race for the World Endurance Championship and taking advantage of what I feel like is a home-field advantage. It was a really great job by everyone at Corvette.
“Hearing the American national anthem and being under an American flag, I couldn’t ask for more.”
Like Keating, silver-rated Varrone also marked his first race appearance for Corvette – as well as his first WEC start outside of Le Mans – with a victory.
“What a dream. At Sebring with Corvette and winning the 1,000 Miles of Sebring, I'm super happy. I couldn't ask for a better debut with the brand,” said the Argentinian driver.
“Corvette Racing did a great job all week long. Ben did a great job with the start and in his first three stints. Then I jumped in the car for three hours, which was tough. Then I handed it over to Nicky, who is a legend. We all know that he knows what to do. He brought it home safely and now I can't be happier!
"This was a very difficult race for me. I had to do a triple stint in the middle. I've had to do a triple stint at Le Mans, but I have to say that Sebring is much more difficult!”
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Keating hails "special" Sebring win in first WEC race for Corvette have 833 words, post on www.motorsport.com at March 18, 2023. This is cached page on Auto News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.