On Sunday, September 10th, 2023, the No. 33 Corvette Racing C8.R of Nicky Catsburg, Nico Varrone and Ben Keating looked like a shoe-in for the victory in the Six Hours of Fuji, but a minor wreck and two penalties killed any shot the team had at the win.
Keating was behind the wheel of the No. 33 Corvette Racing machine at the time of the collision, making contact with the No. 54 Ferrari driven by Thomas Flohr three hours into the event. A 30-second stop/go penalty was issued to the Corvette team in the wake of the crash.
However, it didn’t take long for Varrone to guide the blisteringly fast No. 33 Corvette back to the lead after the incident. While leading, Varrone was dealt another penalty, losing 10 seconds after allegedly forcing the No. 86 Porsche off the racing surface. The ‘Vette trio then rallied back to a third-place result, but were understandably upset by the penalties dealt to the team, feeling that they were unfairly treated during the racing event.
“It’s nice to come out of here with a podium, but it was clear that we should have won the race,” said Catsburg. “Without the penalties, we by far had the best strategy. Ben and Nico did an amazing job fuel-saving. We had, I would say, two questionable penalties and without those we would have won by a country mile. It’s a shame but those are part of it.”
Keating defended his actions that forced him to tangle with the No. 54 Ferrari.
“I was right up next to him and it was my intention to make his braking line tighter. As I went to get close to him, he came over to get into the braking line and the fact is that we came together,” he said. “But because the normal line is to go out wide for the brake zone, they deemed I went into him more than he went into me. I felt like it was a racing incident.”
Catsburg said that the sting of the Fuji penalties was lessened by the fact that the Corvette Racing team has already clinched the 2023 championship.