Drivers Daniel Keilwitz and Jules Gounon pulled off an amazing ADAC GT Masters victory driving their brand-new Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R. This is the new Corvette’s fourth competitive race for 2016. It finished 4.4 seconds ahead of a very competitive field of the world’s top GT3 race cars. The ADAC rules are based on the FIA GT3 guidelines and each race is one hour in length and includes a mandatory 65-second pit stop for a driver change. No fuel or tires can be added during the stop, just tire pressure adjustments. If your stop is under 65 seconds the car will be assessed a 30-second drive-through penalty. Each weekend includes two 1-hour races and each driver qualifies for one race per weekend. On Saturday, Jules Gounon qualified the No 77 Corvette Fifth with a time of 1:19.945 compared to the pole time of 1:19.570, achieved by a Lamborghini. He and driver Daniel Keilwitz finished a respectable Fourth overall. On Sunday, Keilwitz qualified Tenth with a time of 1:19.462 compared to the pole time of 1:18.762 set by a Mercedes AMG.
Keilwitz is known for his amazing starts from well back in the field and Sunday was no exception. When the green flag fell he managed to pass several cars to take Fourth by the time he entered Turn 1. As he swept through Turn 2, partially on the grass, he rubbed elbows with the Third place Bentley GT3. It worked and Daniel took over Third. Next up was the very quick Audi R8 LMS and on lap 2 he used the Corvette’s downforce to dive under the Audi at the end of the main straight. He used the Corvette’s grunt to begin stalking the lead Mercedes. Ten minutes into the race Keilwitz made his move at the end of the main straight. He passed the Mercedes on the inside of the first corner and took the race lead. The Audi also passed the Mercedes, but Daniel had already begun to pull out a nice lead. The competitive Mercedes was suffering from additional weight that was added by the organizers after winning two previous races.
The Corvette was now in clean air and quickly built up a 4-second lead over the Second place Audi. With 34 minutes remaining in the race the pit window opened. The window stays open for nine minutes total. Callaway brought Keilwitz into the pits right before the window closed to hand the car over to Gounon. Their stop took 66 seconds and Jules maintained the 5.7-second lead. With 21 minutes remaining a safety car was called after a Bentley spun into the gravel and had to be removed. This bunched up the field. The green flag fell with 14 minutes remaining and Jules pulled out a 4.4-second lead to take the checkered flag for the new Corvette’s first victory. During the podium celebration the ADAC presented Callaway Team Principle Giovanni Ciccone with a 60th birthday cake. Happy Birthday, Giovanni!
After the race, winner Daniel Keilwitz had this to say about his start, “If you put your foot down at just the right moment in a flying start, you’re always in with a chance of gaining some positions. This went perfectly for me today. But you also have to have a bit of luck with suitable gaps opening up. Before the driver change, I passed two more opponents and handed the car over to Jules [Gounon] in the lead. He then drove a clean stint right through to the finish. I’m especially pleased about this first victory for the new Corvette. The team has worked hard over the winter to get the car ready for the start of the season.”
If this amazing Corvette continues to wave the American flag in Europe, perhaps GM might reconsider their decision and allow this beautiful Corvette to race in America. This Twitter quote from an Audi Sport fan sums it up, “The brand-new Corvette C7 GT3 is already a race winner. Just hilarious that Chevrolet and GM won’t allow the car to compete in North America!”