Ernst Woehr and Team VETTE flew to Nice the next morning to attend the press conference. We were met at the airport by an old friend of Woehr's, ex-F1 driver Jochen Maas. Maas, who lives in nearby Monte Carlo, knew the quickest route around the city and kept us entertained with his often amazing life stories.
The cars were already on display when we arrived at the Hotel de Paris. In addition to the Corvette, vehicles on hand included the Dodge Viper and entries from Lamborghini, Porsche, Maserati, Venturi, Ascari, Lotus, and Aston Martin. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain, and cars without windows-including the Corvette-were getting soaked.
Later, at the press conference, FIA GT3 Director Stephane Ratel explained the main objective of the new series: "We have to balance performance. We believe that Aston Martin and Porsche are the fastest unrestricted. Then you should have the Dodge and Maserati. We don't know about the performance of the Lotus, Venturi, the Corvette-but basically, it should not be that difficult to balance performance with weight."
The next morning, Maas transported us to the spectacular Circuit Paul Ricard, an FIA test track and former home of the French Grand Prix. Maas was intimately familiar with the facility, having held the F1-car track record there for a number of years. Several cars were already circulating the 3.55-mile circuit when we arrived. By day's end, Darren Turner had set the fastest time driving the Prodrive Aston Martin.
As we winged our way back to Leingarten, Ernst told Team VETTE he would be taking delivery of six more Z06s in January. Callaway Competition will convert all six cars to Z06-R specifications. Based on our observations, the FIA GT3 European Championship should provide a terrifically exciting venue for these cars to showcase their on-track abilities.
The author would like to thank Jochen Maas for his kind hospitality and Ernst Woehr for giving Team VETTE an early opportunity to watch this project unfold. To stay up-to-date on Team Carsport's activities, log on to www.corvettemotorsport.com.