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Catsburg, Keating, Varrone Looking Forward to LMP2 Rivalry

GTE-Am-winning teammates become rivals as Keating, Catsburg, Varrone face off…

Image: Focus Pack Media

Nicky Catsburg, Ben Keating and Nico Varrone are relishing the opportunity to battle each other in LMP2 Pro-Am at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one year after they took a GTE-Am class win with Corvette Racing at the event.

The three drivers, who also won the drivers’ title in the class in the FIA World Endurance Championship together, have all ended up in separate teams competing in the same category.

Catsburg joins George Kurtz and Colin Braun aboard the No. 45 CrowdStrike Racing by APR Oreca 07 Gibson while Keating drives for United Autosports and Varrone slots into the lineup of the No. 183 AF Corse machine alongside Francois Perrodo and Ben Barnicoat.

“It is funny,” Catsburg told Sportscar365 about the situation.

“I guess the advantage is that I know their strong points and weak points and I can take advantage of that. I think we all have strong lineups.

“We’re all in a good car with good lineups and it is going to be quite a challenge to be honest.

“I wouldn’t want to say now who has the best shot. I don’t know, to be honest. I think we’re all in it.

“It’s still a long race and I’m not going to treat them any different than I would anyone else. In the end, they’re just opponents.

“But it’s pretty cool that we all landed in an LMP2 somehow. In mine and in Nico’s case, it’s a bit unusual.

“For Ben, he has done it more often. So let’s see. I’m looking forward to fighting them.

“I’m sure they are going to be very, very strong. I feel like we have a good shot and whoever is in the car, it doesn’t matter.”

While Keating does have more experience in LMP2 machinery, most notably from his time racing ORECA machinery in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, he downplayed the significance that might have in the battle against his former teammates.

“George Kurtz won Pro-Am last year,” Keating said. “And he’s going to be in the same car with the same tire.

“I’ve been in LMP2 here twice. But it was a long time ago and I’ve never been on the Goodyear tire. And I’ve never run with the Le Mans bodywork.

“So I’m very familiar with the car. And I’m very familiar with the race. I’m just not familiar with this car at this race.”

When asked, Keating admits he is similarly thrilled about the prospect of facing off against his former Corvette stablemates.

“It is a very cool situation,” he said.

“We’re all very excited about it. We keep talking lots of trash amongst each other. We’re going to find out who was really responsible for the win last year.”

Varrone is notably the only one out of the three who has never raced in LMP2, but will be making back-to-back appearances in the class as he was also recently announced to be joining DragonSpeed at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.

“I hope at some point on the TV they can show us fighting three-wide on the Mulsanne Straight,” Varrone said.

“That would be really funny. Honestly I feel like the three of us, we’re in really good teams with really good drivers and really good package.

“So I think it’s going to be a tough fight which is really cool and I’m looking forward to it.”

Varrone notes that the battle between himself, Keating and Catsburg is just one part of an intriguing Pro-Am entry, featuring several high-profile teams and driver combinations across the grid.

“I think LMP2 Pro-Am this year is going to be awesome,” he said.

“If you see the entries, the names in Pro-Am, the competition is [at a] super high level and I think it will be quite close.

“I think it will be a great race and I’m really looking forward to fighting with Nicky and Ben because if we are fighting together that means we are close to the top.”

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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