courtesy of Corvette Motorsport
The final weekend of the German ADAC GT Masters didn’t disappoint Corvette fans as they raced against the best manufacturers from Germany. Heading in to the weekend, the Leingarten based Callaway Competition team lead both the Drivers and the Teams title. Knowing it would take a herculean effort to keep ahead of Germany’s best GT3 teams, the Corvette squad took advantage of a pre‐race test day (for all competitors) to optimize the car for qualifying on Saturday for Race 1.
Qualifying 1 for the first race on Saturday, saw Jules Gounon posting purple times (the quickest) in both 1st and 2nd sectors. However, an immediate red flag hampered the Frenchman’s lap, forcing him to abort it. Thankfully almost immediately after the session went back to Green, Gounon repeated this performance to post the best lap of the session and pole position for Race 1. As Race 1 started, the goal was clear: Build a big enough gap to maintain the lead as the tyres degraded over the race period. After handing over the lead of the race to Daniel Keilwitz, the German held off immense pressure from a charging Land Motorsport Audi from Christopher Mies. “Towards the end, I had to be vigilant, because the rear tyres were pretty much worn out. But we knew that beforehand, so we tried to build a lead in the first half of the race.” Explains Keilwitz. “It was difficult maintaining the pace, but the lead was ultimately enough.” In the end, the Nr77 brought home the win by 0.834!
The Race 1 win for Callaway Competition also meant that the 2017 Drivers Champion was crowned. The winner? Jules Gounon! An incredible achievement for the young Frenchman at only 22 years of age and only his 2nd year in GT3 racing. “I am ecstatic about winning this title. It’s unbelievable that we’ve done it.” Says Gounon. “My thanks to the whole Callaway team. Without them, this success would not have been possible.” This result also marked another championship title for Engine supplier APP Racing Engines based in Holland. A partner of Callaway Competition since their GT3 Program’s inception in 2005.
Race 2 saw a reversal of fortune for the Morning Qualifying session. Heavy fog greeted the teams, ultimately delaying the start of the session 1hr and 30 min after. With the added 30 kgs of weight onboard from their Race 1 win, Daniel Keilwitz managed to capture a midfield 14th position. At the start, the German carved through the field and was in the top 10 and charging. After 9 minutes of racing the Nr77 was . . . Fifth! After the mandatory pit stop and driver change, Gounon cautiously reeled in the top 3 battling for the lead six seconds ahead of him. As the race drew to a close, the battle for the win was intense. Jules had closed the six second gap and was battling the third place Lamborghini. However, the last lap of the race was the ultimate nail biter.
With the BMW leading a majority of the race, the Nr 99 Porsche of Herbert Motorsport finally passed Nr 42 BMW to take the lead. At the hairpin the BMW attempted to retake the lead and contact with the Porsche, spun the 99 out of the lead and off the track. This led Jules to make a late passing attempt with the Grasser Lambo ahead of him in 2nd place. The attempt failed when Jules slid off into the gravel, but he saved the car and returned to the track still in 3rd position. The charging C7 GT3 finished in 3rd position. However, after the race, officials gave the BMW a 30 second penalty for contact that pushed them down into 13th position. This moved the Grasser Lambo to 1st and the Nr77 to 2nd! Callaway captured the 2017 Teams title, plus 1st and 2nd in the Driver’s Championship, as well as 1st in the Junior Driver’s Championship (for drivers under 25). In the end, it was a perfect weekend and season for Callaway Competition.
Rounding out the weekend was RWT Racing. The Customer Callaway team endured a tough a season all year but this weekend showed an upturn in their fortune. Race 1 saw a P10 result and Race 2 P14. Sven Barth summarizes his season: “The season would have been not that bad with the brilliant C7 GT3‐R but we were absolutely unlucky this year. In most races we would have been in the Top 10 but we were sometimes involved in accidents as innocent victims! But the races were brilliant and gave me the answer as to why we all love this sport! I had so many fights with other drivers during both races. At the end we were in 10th position on Saturday and 14th at Sunday which is not that bad with regards to the bad starting position! Also, I hope to take part in next year’s challenge!”
Giovanni Ciccone and Ernst Wöhr (Team Owners Callaway Competition): “Jules did a great job the entire season and became a lot stronger. He knew when to hold back and understood that a fourth‐place finish is sometimes more important than a trophy. We are pleased that Daniel had a chance to demonstrate his former strength again. He is a confident driver and rises to the occasion when it counts. We are proud of both our drivers and happy about the title in the team ranking that also rewards the work of our team. Of course, the racing gods always play a big role. You do need a bit of luck.”
Jules Gounon (Nr77 Valvoline/Roller C7 GT3‐R): “I am ecstatic about winning this title. It’s unbelievable that we’ve done it. My thanks to the whole Callaway team. Without them, this success would not have been possible. It was never going to be easy following the previous round at the Sachsenring. After that difficult weekend, we had lost some self‐ confidence. I tried to pull out a lead during my stint to give Daniel the best possible position when he took over. I was not at all nervous when he was in the car. He simply never makes any mistakes. The Corvette is fantastic, and the whole team has worked incredibly hard.”
Daniel Keilwitz (Nr77 Valvoline/Roller C7 GT3‐R): “It was an overall great weekend for us. Towards the end of Race 1, I had to be vigilant, because the rear tyres were pretty much worn out. But we knew that beforehand, so we tried to build a lead in the first half of the race. It was difficult maintaining the pace, but the lead was ultimately enough. It’s wonderful for the team and for Jules to have taken the title. And it’s also good for me to come back with a win. For Race 2, we never expected to finish on the podium from 14th on the grid, but I took a lot of risks at the start and over the first two laps. I pulled it off, fortunately. I had a fresh set of tyres, so I knew that I could attack at the start. I handed the car over to Jules in fourth place. We won the team championship and I finished second overall. We couldn’t have done more.”
Sven Barth (Nr13 RWT Racing C7 GT3‐R): “The season would have been not that bad with the brilliant C7 GT3‐R but we were absolutely unlucky this year. In most races we would have been in the Top 10 but we were sometimes involved in accidents as innocent victims! But the races were brilliant and gave me the answer as to why we all love this sport! I hope to take part in next year’s challenge!”