Corvette Racing plans Dual-Pronged IMSA, WEC 2023 attack

Corvette Racing will compete in IMSA's GTD PRO class and WEC's GTE Am in 2023
Corvette Racing will compete in IMSA’s GTD PRO class and WEC’s GTE Am in 2023

Corvette Racing will return to both IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the FIA’s World Endurance Championship (WEC) for each series’ 2023 seasons, campaigning a single C8.R in each for the second consecutive year. 

In IMSA, both Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor will run the entire GTD PRO class in America’s top sports car series, with Tommy Milner joining the team for the three endurance races: Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring and Motul Petit Le Mans. 

Corvette Racing will take on a new challenge in WEC for the 2023 campaign, as it transitions into GTE Am competition next year after racing in the GTE Pro series this season, which culminates November 12th with the 8 Hours of Bahrain. Drivers in next year’s GTE Am competition are current endurance racer Nicky Catsburg, who will team with notably successful Bronze driver Ben Keating, considered one of the best privateer racers currently competing in both WEC and IMSA competition. 

“We learned a great deal this year about running dual programs in both IMSA and the FIA WEC – all of which will benefit the Corvette brand going forward,” noted Laura Wontrop Klauser, GM sports car racing program manager. “In IMSA, we will return to GTD PRO against a very competitive group of manufacturers, while laying the groundwork for the Corvette Z06 GT3.R,” which will compete in customer hands in 2024. “Similarly,” she said, “Corvette Racing’s FIA WEC program allows us the opportunity to continue growing the global presence of Corvette in a world championship.”

With two championships in their three years together, Garcia and Taylor reunite for another run at IMSA’s GTD PRO title in 2023. Continuing its 2022 effort, the bright yellow Corvette C8.R runs in a modified state to fit into the performance window of GT3 cars that make up both the GTD PRO and standard GTD entries in IMSA’s WeatherTech championship. 

The highlight of Corvette Racing’s 2022 campaign was its victory in the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring with Garcia, Taylor and Catsburg. The team had dual runner-up results at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and Virginia International Raceway (VIR). This past year’s campaign was definitely a learning experience, both for Corvette Racing and for IMSA as they worked together to balance the C8.R and competition in the GTD PRO category, on both technical and competitive standpoints.

Antonio Garcia, a five-time IMSA champion dating back to 2013, has made 136 total starts with Corvette Racing’s program since joining as an endurance, long-distance driver in 2009. Career highlights for the Spaniard include two Rolex 24 victories, two Le Mans wins and five victories in Sebring’s 12-hour race. 

American Taylor owns four IMSA championships, including two in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class with Garcia as co-driver. Those titles were earned in 2020 and 2021. Taylor joined Corvette Racing in 2012 as a long-distance specialist and third driver; he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015 and moved to his current full-time role in 2020, the season the current C8.R made its debut.

In announcing its third driver for IMSA’s endurance events – and his duties as primary testing and development driver for the customer-racing Corvette 06 GT3.R – ahead of the racing season, the choice of Tommy Milner is a natural. Currently campaigning the full 2022 WEC season for Corvette Racing, he’ll co-drive with Garcia and Taylor in IMSA’s marquee contests at Daytona, Sebring and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Milner has been a full-time driver for Corvette since 2011 and is a two-time IMSA champion. 

Milner’s duties in developing the Z06 GT3.R will have him perform both on-track testing and use the manufacturer’s Driver-in-the-Loop simulator. The sim has been part of Corvette Racing’s refinement duties for the chassis platform, its traction control, ABS and other tools that are features of GT3 racing. The Z06 GT3.R shares the same aluminum chassis, a production 5.5-liter DOHC LT6 Z06 engine (with flat-plane crankshaft architecture) modified for use in this particular race car, and similar aerodynamic features to the C8.R that races in IMSA’s GTD PRO class. 

The World Endurance Championship’s GTE Am division requires at least one Bronze-level driver – as rated by the FIA. A single professional-level driver is allowed, along with a second Bronze or Silver-rated racer. Corvette Racing will confirm the final member of the WEC lineup at a later date.

This upcoming full-time 2023 campaign is Catsburg’s first in the WEC since 2019. He has wins in long-distance races at the Nurburgring, Spa and on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course, among other venues. Keating is a past winner at Le Mans, Daytona, Sebring and a number of other premier races in WEC, IMSA and the Intercontinental GT Challenge. 

Starting his racing career in 2006, Keating quickly earned a reputation as one of sports car racing’s most reliable and fastest amateur drivers – in both prototype and GT categories. He brings support from Four Horsemen Racing and Wynns friction coatings. While Keating steps into a Corvette for the first time, Catsburg has established himself as a fixture with the marque. Since coming to Corvette Racing in 2020, Catsburg has earned victory at Daytona in 2021 and at Sebring this year, alongside Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor.

After copious testing, including the Roar Before the Rolex 24, Corvette Racing’s 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship campaign begins with the mid-winter Rolex 24 at Daytona classic at Daytona International Speedway January 28-30. The FIA WEC season also begins in Florida, with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring on March 17.

About Anne Proffit 1140 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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