As we've noted in the past, the FIA's GT3 category showcases the top exoticcar manufacturers in the world. To ensure competitiveness in the series, most of these automakers-Aston Martin, Dodge, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche among them-build race-spec versions of their street cars and offer them to the public. In addition, factory technical support is provided to fix any failures that might occur during the heat of battle.
One exception is the Corvette. Chevy doesn't build a GT3-spec model for consumers, and the company doesn't provide factory support to teams that build and campaign their own GT3 Vettes. Despite these formidable hurdles, the three Corvette Z06.Rs of the Martini- Callaway team have proved to be some of the fastest cars in this very competitive series. After finishing Second overall in the opening round at Silverstone and Sixth/Tenth at the next event in Bucharest, the team headed to Monza, Italy, with high hopes for another great finish in Round Three.
The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza is a high-speed, 3.583-mile circuit located 15.5 miles north of Milan. World-famous jeweler andMartini-Callaway sponsor Nicola Bulgari wason hand at Monza to watch his team compete.Race One saw 37 cars vying for the pole position, with Luca Pirri ultimately winning the top spot in the No. 18 Martini-Callaway Z06.R. The legendary Klaus Ludwig, meanwhile, piloted the team's No. 16 Z06.R to the pole for Race Two.
Both races were flagged off under clear, hot skies and proved to be epic battles among Corvette, Aston, Ferrari, and Viper. In the end,however, the No. 18 Pirri/von Gartzen Vette took back-to-back checkered flags. The No.19 Z06.R, campaigned by the French team Riverside, finished Fourth and Third.
After the race, the Ferrari team protested the No. 18 Vette's second win. It seems the Z06.R only had 1.7 kg of fuel left in its tank after the race, just shy of the 2 kg required by series rules. As a result, the Martini-Callaway's second win was disqualified, and the car was listed as a non-finisher. This moved the Ferrari from Second to First and put the No. 19 Riverside Vette into the runner-up spot.
While this result was quite a blow to the Martini-Callaway crew, it was obvious from the team's performance at Monza that it was finally fielding competitive and reliable race cars. Even better, Pirri and von Gartzen moved into second place in the FIA GT3 drivers championship. With two events remaining (in the Czech Republic and Dubai), the two drivers still had a shot at the championship.