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Corvette Treating GTE-Am Switch Like a “Second Season”

Laura Wontrop Klauser on Corvette Racing’s approach for 2023 WEC season in GTE-Am…

Photo: MPS Agency

Corvette Racing will be treating its switch to the GTE-Am ranks of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship like a “second season” in the globe-trotting series according to GM sports car racing program manager Laura Wontrop Klauser.

The Pratt Miller-run squad, which is completing its first full WEC campaign in this weekend’s 8 Hours of Bahrain, will make the switch to a customer program next year following the demise of the GTE-Pro class.

Klauser said she’s been “pleased with the decision” to take on the WEC this year with its solo Chevrolet Corvette C8.R for Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy, which has tasted success in the highly competitive category.

“We learned so much this year,” she told Sportscar365. “Considering the win in Monza, the team really pulled through.

“When you enter a championship, even though we’ve been racing the car for several years, and racing GT cars for a long time, a new competition is a new competition.

“There’s new rules you have to learn, there’s new people you have to get to know, there’s just understanding how it works and how your car needs to work within it.

“All that considering, how we did all year, I’m really proud of them and all the effort.”

The program will transition into a full customer operation for the first time in Corvette Racing’s 25-year history next season, with Ben Keating joining as the required Bronze-rated driver in the lineup.

Keating will share the wheel of the Corvette with Nicky Catsburg and a yet-to-be-determined Silver-rated driver.

Beyond the lineup shakeup to fulfill the category’s amateur driver requirements, Klauser indicated not much else will change with the team structure.

“We’re still working through all of the little details but at this point it’s more like a second season,” she said.

“We understand that it’s a different class and we’ll adjust accordingly for whatever we need to do for [the] regulations.

“Adding Ben to the team is the huge change for us. We’re excited to have him on board; he’s great.

Klauser added: “We never wanted to get into the business of being a customer team with our Pratt Miller team but the opportunity to get ready for GT3 where we’ll be working with teams who have customers and understanding a little bit of what it’s like to walk in their shoes and what they deal with, I think will be really valuable for the big program.

“It’s already been valuable just in the negotiations in bringing Ben on board and understanding what’s important to him and important to us.

“That has helped us as we’ve been working on GT3 as well so it’s another opportunity for learning.”

Corvette to Evaluate Silvers in Bahrain Rookie Test

Keating, meanwhile, will get his first laps in the Corvette in Sunday’s WEC rookie test, in what the Texan has described as being an highly anticipated experience.

“I’m just excited about my first opportunity to get in the Corvette,” he told Sportscar365.

“Obviously I’ve walked around it, I’ve looked at it and I’ve talked a lot about it but I’m really excited to finally get a chance to get behind the wheel and see how it feels.”

The single-day test at Bahrain International Circuit will also see the team try out two prospective drivers to complete the lineup in Axcil Jefferies and Nico Varrone, who are both set to be Silver-rated by the FIA next year.

“Axcil has done a great job the last several years,” said Keating. “He’s got a lot of endurance racing experience and a lot of experience in Asian Le Mans, has done Le Mans and is obviously a very, very good option.

“Nico did great in ELMS this year with Rinaldi. He’s done well in the LMP3 and he did well in the Ferrari.

“I’m still pretty close with Jeroen Bleekemolen and he was teammates with Jeroen in Portimao and Jeroen said, ‘Hey, you’ve got to look at this guy, he’s really quick.’ That’s how it happened.

“We’re excited to test both of those guys for a possible seat in the car.

“We are testing those guys here because we felt like getting three people through the car in one day here is about as much as we can do. We’ll test some more at a later date.”

Keating said he expects a decision to be made on the final driver sometime early next year.

“This is a much bigger organization than I’m used to,” he said. “You have to go through some other layers to make sure everything is OK before you announce anything.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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