Photography by Walt Thurn, Callaway Competition, Axel Weichert
The 2016 ADAC GT Masters Championship season begins on April 15-17 at Motorsport Arena Oschersleben in Oschersleben, Germany. The tight, twisty 2.29-mile facility is a great place for fans to watch the action. Large berms and grandstands allow spectators to view the event from high vantage points. The German sports car series is preparing to celebrate their 10th anniversary when the green flag falls for race one on Saturday. The event is packed with 34 GT3 cars from eight manufacturers in two classes: GT and Gentleman. Sixty-four drivers will compete to win the 2016 ADAC championship.
Callaway Competition, headquartered in Leingarten, Germany, is the only constructor of Corvette GT3 race cars, but they do not race in the U.S. per an agreement with GM. They brought three 2016 Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-Rs to the preseason ADAC test session at Oschersleben and one C6-based Z06.R GT3 Corvette.
The No. 77 Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R driven by 21-year-old Jules Gounon set the second quickest time on the first day of testing at 1:27.758, only 0.46 seconds behind the leading Audi R8. Jules will be co-driving his Corvette with 2013 ADAC Driver Champion Daniel Keilwitz. Keilwitz was fourth quickest on the second day of testing.
U.S. drivers Boris Said and Eric Curran tested their No. 31 Whelen Engineering C7 GT3-R. Due to Eric’s busy schedule (he co-drives the No. 31 Whelen Motorsports Daytona Prototype in the IMSA WeatherTech United Sports Car Championship series), Loris Hezeman will be Boris’s co-driver. The young, 18-year-old Loris comes from a family with extensive racing heritage. His older brother Mike won the 24 Hours of Spa driving an ex-Pratt & Miller C6R Corvette.
The third Callaway entry is the No. 69 AutoArena.de C7 driven by Patrick Assenheimer and Dominik Schwager. RWT Racing’s ITK Engineering-sponsored C6 Z06.R GT3 driven by Sven Barth and Remo Lips will compete in the Gentleman Championship category.
The season opener will be held at the same circuit as this preseason test. Fourteen additional races will take place at tracks in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. All of the races will be broadcast live on the TV SPORT1 channel in Europe. The ADAC GT Masters adheres to the FIA GT3 rules format that requires driver changes during each 1-hour event. Pit stops must be no quicker than 70 seconds, with quicker stops incurring a 30-second stop-and-go penalty. The starting field is extensive and varied. Twenty teams, including eight newcomers, have registered 34 cars from eight different manufacturers for the opening race. This includes six new or upgraded models: Audi R8, BMW M6, Corvette C7, Lamborghini Huracán, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche 911—which will be up against last year’s debutants, Bentley Continental and Nissan GT-R. There are not only eight new teams on the ADAC GT Masters grid in 2016 but also a lot of drivers who are new to the series.
“The 2016 ADAC GT Masters goes into its anniversary season with a distinguished field of competitors,” says ADAC Sports President Hermann Tomczyk. “The ADAC GT Masters has long been regarded as one of the top GT series in Europe. When we first came up with the concept in 2007, we certainly didn’t expect this level of success. In recent years, the ADAC GT Masters has also established a reputation as a springboard for youngsters embarking on a career in professional motorsport.” Callaway Competition has been an ADAC GT Masters regular since the inception of the series. As in previous years, RWT Racing will be pinning their hopes on the predecessor model: the Corvette Z06.R GT3. The team is highly competitive and well managed. Daniel Keilwitz holds the record for the most ADAC GT Masters race wins and claimed the driver title in 2013. He is beginning his sixth season with the Callaway Competition GT3 Corvette team. Let’s hope another Callaway Competition championship is in the near future. Stay tuned.