After Brno, the FIA reduced the Corvette's throttle-body size from 52 to 50 mm. The No. 16 Graff Racing Corvette gained an extra 40 kg (88 pounds) of ballast thanks to its double victories. The No. 101 Callaway Corvette received an additional 25 kg (55 pounds). All Corvettes carry a base 60 kg (132 pounds) of ballast in the passenger compartment.
In late June the teams headed to the circuit in Jarama, Spain, located 27.8 km (18 miles) north of Madrid. The course is a tight, narrow, 3.85km (2.41-mile) track with little room for overtaking.
Corvettes qualified second, eighth, and twelfth, with the Lamborghini of Thurn und Taxis taking the pole, followed by Keliwitz in the No. 101 Corvette. Graff Racing could do no better than eighth place, thanks to its fresh "reward weight." Keliwitz took the race lead after contacting the pole-sitting Lamborghini. But with a sure win in hand, the Corvette's engine sputtered on the last lap, allowing the second place Audi R8 to sweep by to take the victory. After the race, the team found that a faulty fuel pump was to blame for the power loss.
The championship-leading No. 101 Corvette of Keliwitz and Hohenadel qualified first but was moved back five grid positions to sixth because of its altercation with the Lambo a day earlier. Porsche led at the start, followed by the No. 16 Graff Racing Corvette, but the extra ballast quickly pushed the Vette down to fourth. Keliwitz was holding steady in third position until the same fuel problem cropped up again on the last lap. The fourth place Audi passed Keliwitz and took Third, while the No. 16 Vette finished a lowly 10th.
With six races in the book and six to go, Keliwitz and Hohenadel led the FIA GT3 driver's championship by 37 points over second place Graff Corvette drivers Mike Parisy and Joakim Lambotte. Can the 4-year-old non-factory-supported Z06 possibly win a fourth championship? Or will the FIA impose a severe weight penalty and knock the Vettes out of contention? Stay tuned.
Hitching A Ride To Brno with The Callaway Crew
FIA racing teams encounter many non-race-related expenses during the season, including travel, food, and lodging. To help defray these costs, Callaway Competition drives to as many races as possible during the season. The team uses a Fiat minibus called the Ducato to transport up to eight crewmembers and their luggage to the races. Powered by a turbo-diesel engine, the Ducato provides excellent fuel mileage, even while cruising at high speed.
During our recent trip to the GT3 race in Brno, Czech Republic, we were invited to travel along with the crew. Brno is 656 km (410 miles) east of Leingarten, Germany, and the drive takes about six hours. The team also uses an 18-wheeler to transport all of its large equipment, including a portable garage, pit equipment, and three Corvette race cars. Some crewmembers ride in the semi, while the rest travel in the Ducato.
Seven of us departed Leingarten at 1 a.m., cruising at 185 km/h (116 mph) throughout most of the trip. Our primary route was the A6 Autobahn that cuts through Nurnberg to the Czech border. The Czech Republic is not part of the European Union, and commercial vehicles must clear customs to enter the country. Once we were past the border, we drove to Prague, then turned south and continued for two more hours to Brno.
After arriving at the track at 7 a.m., the real work began. The three cars were unloaded, followed by the toolboxes and equipment. Finally, a large tent was erected and rubber flooring was laid out to provide a comfortable surface for the crew to work on. Setup was completed four hours later, and the crew began getting the cars ready for Friday's first practice.
The day finally wound down at around 7:30 p.m., and we all headed to our hotel for a welcome night's rest. This grueling schedule continued for the next three days, until it was finally time to dismantle everything and return to Leingarten.