When we last visited Callaway Competition in Leingarten, Germany, the Carsport/Callaway Z06.R had just returned from its debut in Monte Carlo. Callaway's electrical engineer, Uli Lindau, immediately went to work finishing the car's electrical system. Once Uli was done, the engine was started and broken in. In spite of the cold weather (25 to 30 degrees F) and snow, Team Carsport and Callaway scheduled several test sessions at the nearby Hockenheim Ring Grand Prix course.
The sessions had several objectives, including tire testing and driver familiarization, as well as handling and engine/driveline evaluation. Four drivers participated: Mike Hezemans, Bert Longin, Philippe D'Agostino, and Marc Sourd. Mike and Bert drove the ex-Pratt & Miller C5-R last year for Team GLPK/Carsport Holland and will drive a retired P&M C6.R for the same team this season.
The test sessions proved very successful. The Z06.R was run on Goodyear, Pirelli, and Michelin tires, and while all three seemed to work very well, the nod ultimately went to the Michelins. Lap times were impressive, with the car completing the tricky, 4.574km (2.842-mile) Hockenheim circuit only six seconds per lap slower than the aforementioned C5-R. Considering that the Z06.R is a full-bodied, showroom-stock Corvette, these times are outstanding.
One thing that became obvious during the tests was that the car would require lower and wider rear fenders. It also needed larger rear wheels/tires, to help harness the power from the massive 7-liter engine, and air jacks, to speed up pit stops. Once these upgrades were finished, the Z06.R was returned to Circuit Paul Ricard in France for another FIA GT3 evaluation. The car was the fastest one present for the test sessions, and the team was pleased with the results.
Since our "Built to Win" story appeared in the June issue, six more street Z06s have been converted to Z06.R specifications by Callaway Competition. Three were purchased by Team Riverside in France, and three more by Team Carsport. The original Z06.R will continue its role as development test mule.
As you read this, the first scheduled FIA GT3 race will already have taken place at Silverstone Circuit in England. Stay tuned for race results and other Z06.R updates throughout the '06 season.