Catsburg the Verstappen of endurance racing: 'A bizarre season'
The Dutch driver won in a Ferrari 296 GT3

Catsburg the Verstappen of endurance racing: 'A bizarre season'

22-05-2023 19:47
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Toby McLuskie

His name is probably not well known to the general public, but Nicky Catsburg is one of the most successful drivers in the Netherlands at the moment. The Amersfoorter has already won two races (Sebring and Portimão) in the GTE Am class of the World Endurance Championship with his Corvette this season. On Sunday, Catsburg also took overall victory in a Ferrari 296 GT3 at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring.

With Max Verstappen, Nyck de Vries, Rinus VeeKay, Renger van der Zande and Robin Frijns, the Netherlands currently has quite a few top drivers. Catsburg is actually one of them, but his name hardly appears in the media. " I've never been that concerned with that," he responds a day after his victory at the Nurburgring. "I like it in itself [to be in the press]," he told GPblog.

"But I don't need that at all. I'm doing my job nicely and it's going fantastically well. Of course, it's nice once in a while when you do get mentioned. That there are people who do appreciate it. In general, it doesn't bother me too much. I'm very happy with all the opportunities I get, that I get to drive all kinds of different race cars, for different manufacturers."

Glutton for victories

A day after his historic win in the German Eiffel, Catsburg is already on his way to Spa, where a test for the 24 Hours of Spa is taking place these days. These are busy and successful times for Catsburg. Virtually every race the 35-year-old competes in, he is currently winning. "It sounds very stupid when I say that now, but it is almost like that this year. It's a bizarre season so far," he laughs. Catsburg is the Max Verstappen of endurance racing, likewise barely beatable. Besides the races in the WEC, Catsburg also mentions the Asian Le Mans series, in which he won two of the four races as well as taking overall victory in the championship. Only at Spa did he finish second in the WEC.

So Sunday followed another highlight: "The 24 Hours of Nürburgring is always my favourite event of the year. Then it's extra cool to manage to win it. I had already won this 24 hours on the Nordschleife once with BMW, now with a Ferrari. It's just a cool story because it was actually kind of an underdog team going up against the big manufacturers. In the beginning, there wasn't that much support from Ferrari. But when they started to notice, of hey, those guys are going well, then there was also a bit more support from Ferrari."

The underdog wins

Ferrari emphatically flaunted the Frikadelli team's victory on Sunday night. "It is the first time in 20 years that a non-German manufacturer manages to win at the Nürburgring. For Ferrari, especially with that new GTS 693, that's just mega cool. They had never won that race before. To do that now with the new car, which hasn't won that much yet, is also great for them. I jokingly said yesterday to the Ferrari guy who was there: 'Do I get a company car now?' But that was a bit disappointing!"

In Germany, the Frikadelli team can count on a lot of support. "Frikadelli is a local team, located ten minutes from the circuit. All the local fans support that team. The team owner, Klaus Abbelen, was the husband of Sabine Schmitz (she won the 24 hours at the Nürburgring twice). She is truly a legend on the Nordschleife. They always had the idea of doing this race with a Ferrari and then trying to win. They, unfortunately, passed away a few years ago. But we managed to make it happen."

And now Le Mans?

This season's victories have all been handsome. Yet endurance racing is all about that one, next race. " That's Le Mans" Catsburg responds immediately. In the French city, he will drive his Corvette again. "It's a race I would really like to win, of course. I have actually won all the big 24-hour races except Le Mans. Whether it's a disadvantage that I go from Ferrari to Corvette then? No, not at all. I know that Corvette very well. I've been driving that for three years. The Ferrari was kind of a one-off. Last weekend I was still occasionally looking for where the buttons were on the steering wheel, but in the Corvette, I can dream of them."