Together with Ben Keating and Nico Varrone, fourth place in the six-hour race was enough for the American squad to claim the final GTE Am title before the arrival of LMGT3 rules for 2023 will render its C8.R ineligible.
Back-to-back victories at Sebring and Portimao, followed up by a second place at Spa and a third win of the season in the double points Le Mans 24 Hours, had put Corvette in a commanding championship position heading to Italy.
Despite missing out on a podium for the first time all season as Porsche took its first win of 2023 courtesy of the #77 Dempsey-Proton Competition team, an eighth place for its closest rival TF Sport means Corvette can no longer be caught. It has a 78-point advantage with a maximum of 67 still achievable.
Catsburg, who has also taken 24-hour race victories at the Nurburgring (outright) and Spa (in pro-am) this season, paid tribute to the contribution of his “outstanding” team-mates and “relaxed” atmosphere in the Pratt & Miller-run team for contributing to its first WEC title.
For bronze-rated Keating it was a second GTE Am title in as many seasons, after he had claimed the crown for TF in 2022, while 22-year-old silver driver Varrone joined Corvette after two seasons in sportscars racing LMP3 and Ferrari GT machinery.
“This year has really been a lot about doing it as a team,” Catsburg said. “And my team-mates also Nico and Ben deserve a big credit.
“I feel that, okay, I am doing a good job, I am comparing to all the other platinums, but they are outstanding in their class.
#33 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R: Ben Keating, Nicolas Varrone, Nicky Catsburg
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
“Nico is the best silver, Ben is the best bronze in my opinion and that’s what kind of makes it easier when you have a complete package like that. I think that’s where we are making the difference.
“It has been such a relaxed atmosphere in the team and amongst the drivers. I always feel like these weekends are a bit of a holiday, going out with your mates, having fun.
“I must say this year, the amazing atmosphere amongst the mechanics, the drivers, we just get along well. We go for dinner every night, we always hang out.
“Sometimes you just have guys where you don’t click as much with, and this year has been awesome from the start. And that helps a lot.”
Catsburg added that the knowledge it was the final season of competition for the popular GTE cars, which unlike GT3 machines do not have ABS, “makes it extra cool”.
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With the championship wrapped up, he has pledged that Corvette’s approach will not change for the final two rounds, with 10kg in success weight set to come off the car for Fuji in September.
“I don’t think much will change,” he said. “I think we will just continue where we left off.”