It is hard to imagine how a small non-factory Corvette racing team located in the heart of Germany can be such a dominant racing force. They began racing modified street C6 Z06 Corvettes in 2006 and designated them Z06.R GT3. These Corvettes were among the first to compete in FIA’s new racing category that was introduced in 2005 called GT3. Today GT3 is the most popular GT racing category worldwide. The Leingarten GT3 Corvettes have won many international championships with their C6 GT3 Corvettes. This includes 2007 (Team), 2008 (Drivers). 2009 (Team), 2010 (Drivers) and 2013 (Drivers) with their C6 Corvettes.
In October 2015, they introduced their C7 GT3-R GT3 Corvette in Hockenheim, Germany. It was developed from a converted Z51 Corvette street car, without any factory monetary assistance from GM. However, GM did give the team approval to build this GT3 Corvette providing it did not compete in the United States. Once that approval was secured, Callaway Competition constructed another winner for us to drool over. Three cars have been built and their first race was at Oschersleben, Germany. One of these Corvettes (No. 77) driven by Daniel Keilwitz and Jules Gounon, has vaulted to the top of the 2016 ADAC GT Masters Championship category. They accomplished this by finishing 7th in Oschersleben, 4th/1st at Sachsenring, 3rd/1st at Lausitzring. This amazing driving duo left the Lausitzring race only three points away from leading the ADAC Drivers Championship.
Fast forward to this past weekend at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. Race fans saw another dominating Callaway Competition Corvette performance at this demanding 2.7 mile track. Race 1 qualifying saw 21 year old Jules Gounon drive the No.77 Valvoline/Roller Corvette to 3rd on the grid with a 1:27.806. Patrick Assenheimer was 11th in his No.69 AutoArena.de C7 Corvette with a 1:28.448. Boris Said was 14th in his No.31 Whelen C7 Corvette with a 1:28.695. Remo Lips was 19th in his No.13 RWT C6 Z06.R GT3 Corvette with a 1:29.086. The one hour Race 1 on Saturday saw plenty of action and a furious pace took place with a lot of car contact. When the checkered flag fell the No 77 Corvette (Keilwitz/Gounon) was 3rd, the No. 69 Corvette (Assemheimer/Schwager) was 4th, the No.13 C6 Corvette (Lips/Barth) 9th and the No.31 Whelen Corvette (Said/Curran) 10th!
Race two qualifying saw Daniel Keilwitz place the No. 77 Valvoline/Roller Corvette on the pole with a 1:27.949. The No. 69 AutoArena.de Corvette driven by Dominik Schwager was 5th with a 1:28.034. Eric Curran was 9th with a 1:28.121 in his No. 31 Whelen Corvette. Seven Barth was 14th with a 1:28.407 in his C6 Z06.R GT3 Corvette. Only one second separated 1st to 17th qualifying positions! When Race 2 went green it was apparent that the No. 24 Audi R8 LMS wanted the lead. Throughout the first half of the race the Audi tried every trick in the book to pass Keilwitz’s C7 Corvette. The Audi closed when braking for the corners, but the Corvette’s superior downforce and torque from its APP Racing prepared engine had enough grunt to stay ahead of the pesky Audi. Things were not going as well for the No. 69 Corvette. On lap eight while entering Turn 1, the Corvette had a mechanical problem with the left front suspension and was out of the race. The Eric Curran driving the No. 31 Whelen Corvette set the fastest race time of 1:28.459 on lap 7. Unfortunately on the next lap a spark plug wire came loose effecting the throttle fly by wire system. Pit stop repairs pushed the Whelen Corvette to the back of the field. As the Keilwitz Corvette pitted for its mandatory driver change the Audi slipped by to take the lead. When the pit stops were completed, the Audi remained in the lead with Gounon in the No. 77 second. The Barth/Lips C6 No. 13 Corvette was having a brilliant race and was 4th overall. When the checkered flag fell the Audi was first, Gounon second and Bentley third. After the podium celebration was completed a technical problem was discovered with the Audi. It was excluded from the standings. This moved the No.77 Corvette up to first position! Unfortunately the No.13 Corvette was assessed a 30 second penalty for a safety car infraction and pushed the C6 from 4th a place finish to 17th. This was a big disappointment to this hard working team.
This change in the Race 2’s overall standings moved the Keilwitz/Gounon drivers to first place in the driver’s championship with 120 points. An Audi is now second with 91 points. This small German team has amassed an amazing competition record. Here is a quick summary of their 2016 performance to date;
• First in the Drivers’ Championship
• First in the Team Championship
• First in the Young Drivers Championship
• First in the Masters Trophy Championship
Let’s hope Callaway Competition can capture another championship by the end of the 2016 ADAC GT Masters season at Hockenheim in October. Stay tuned!