• Callaway Wins Hockenheim Saturday Race, Finishes 2nd in Sunday Race
• Callaway Competition Wins 2017 Teams’ Championship
• Jules Gounon Wins 2017 Drivers’ Championship and Junior Classification Title
• Daniel Keilwitz Finishes Second to Gounon in 2017 Drivers’ Championship
The final event of the ADAC GT Masters 2017 season was held this weekend, September 23-24, at the Hockenheimring, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The season finale marked the end of this year’s tough campaign contested by highly talented drivers, engineers, team managers, technicians and support staff, competing on an international stage with world-class GT3 super sport cars.
Callaway’s hard work and extensive racing experience paid off during the 2017 season. In fact, before Hockenheim qualifying started on Friday, Callaway Competition was leading the standings in Teams’ Championship points and Callaway driver, Jules Gounon had the most Drivers’ Championship points. Winning the titles wasn’t necessarily in the bag, however. Last year’s champions, the Montaplast Audi R8 LMS team and their champion drivers, Christopher Mies and Connor De Phillippi, were snapping at the heels of the Callaway team. Phillipp Eng, driving a BMW M6 GT3, had also become a threat to capture the title.
According to Jules Gounon, Race 1 qualifying couldn’t have gone better. His #77 Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R set a new ADAC GT Masters qualifying record for Hockenheim and would start Race 1 on the Pole. Jules reported: “I’m very satisfied. This is the first time ever that I’ve posted a perfect lap. We’ve often tested here with Callaway Competition, and it’s paid off. The result, by no means, predicts how things will go in the race, but it’s always better to start from the front than from the back.”
Dominating Race 1 from start to finish
Starting in Pole Position, Jules Gounon and teammate Daniel Keilwitz led the field from P1 for the entire race. In fact, at times, Gounon stretched his lead to almost two seconds before the mandatory pit stop. Following the driver change, Keilwitz extended the lead to nearly five seconds during his stint, ultimately securing the win for Callaway Competition.
Saturday’s victory was Jules’ third of the season and Daniel’s second. Keilwitz’ performance was especially impressive, since he sat out three ADAC GT Masters races due to a broken leg suffered in testing at Spa. Since Gounon gained a 40-point lead in the standings, he had clinched the series’ Drivers’ Championship as well as winning the Junior Classification title.
Following Race 1, Jules reported: “Following the previous races at the Sachsenring, this was never going to be easy. After that difficult weekend, we had lost some self-confidence. I tried to build a lead in my stint to give Daniel the best basis for his own. When Daniel was in the car, I was not at all nervous. He simply never makes any mistakes. The Corvette is fantastic, and the whole team has worked incredibly hard.”
Daniel Keilwitz was glad to have this one under his belt: “Towards the end, I had to be vigilant, because the rear tires 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 is 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.”
Ernst Wöhr, Callaway Team Boss, praised his young driver, “I got to know Jules in the run-up to last season, and we agreed to do a test drive. He immediately made a big impression on us. He’s unbelievable. He’s about to complete only his second season with us, but he just keeps getting better from race to race. His development is by no means complete, but I’m convinced he has a great future ahead of him.”
Sunday’s Race 2 proved to be more challenging. The #77 Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R would qualify 14th, starting Race 2 back in the 7th row. Following a crash-filled start that temporarily brought out the red flag, Daniel Keilwitz fought from 14th to 4th before pitting for the mandatory driver change.
With Jules behind the wheel, the Callaway Corvette resumed its charge to the front of the field, ultimately finishing in second place, only 1.8 seconds behind the race leader. Sunday’s podium finish secured the ADAC GT Masters Teams’ Championship for Callaway Competition.
After Race 2, Gounon explained: “I didn’t want to take any risks when I took over the car, so as not to endanger Callaway’s chances of taking the team title but made a move to overtake towards the end when victory was in sight. Things didn’t work out, but you learn from your mistakes. I had everything under control, though.”
Sunday’s race win went to the GRT Grasser Racing Team’s Lamborghini Huracán GT3, driven by Rolf Ineichen and Christian Engelhart.
#77 Callaway Corvette in action
Keilwitz, Giovanni Ciccone, Gounon
Giovanni Ciccone, Callaway Team Manager, said, “This year everything came together for us . . . we achieved the most victories and we were the most consistent in points . . . It’s great that we won both the Team and Drivers’ Championships in one season.”
Ernst Wöhr, Callaway Team Boss, was ecstatic: “The title means a lot to us. Never before has the standard of competition in the ADAC GT Masters been as high as this year. To win here is the ultimate in GT racing.”
Reeves Callaway, founder of Callaway Cars, made the trip from southern California to Hockenheim for the race weekend. Joining in on the post-race celebration, he said, “I couldn’t be more proud of Jules and Daniel, Ernst and Giovanni, and the entire Callaway Competition team. And we’re grateful for the support we get from Aart Andriessen of APP Racing Engines, supplying our team’s engines. This has certainly been a year to remember.” Reeves was also quick to remind: “Plus, let’s not forget how (replacement drivers) Albert (Costa) and Renger (van der Zande) helped out, filling in when Daniel (Keilwitz) was recuperating from his broken leg.”
The celebration will last for some time, but it will soon be “back-to-work” for the Callaway team. Spring 2018 and the new ADAC GT Masters season is just around the corner.
2018 ADAC GT Masters Season Schedule
• Apr 13-15, Motorsport Arena Oschersleben (Oschersleben, Germany)
• TBD, Additional Spring Race Weekend to be announced
• Jun 8-10, Red Bull Ring (Red Bull Ring, Austria)
• Aug 3-5, Nürburgring (Nürburg, Germany)
• Aug 17-19, Zandvoort (Zandvoort, Netherlands)
• Sep 7-9, Sachsenring (Hohenstein-Ernstthal, Germany)
• Sep 21-23, Hockenheimring (Hockenheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany)
About Callaway Cars Inc.
Headquartered in Old Lyme, Connecticut, Callaway Cars is a global leader in the manufacturing of specialty vehicles and performance products. Led by Reeves Callaway, Callaway Cars has achieved significant success in performance engineering for street and motorsport applications. Technological sophistication, design artistry and craftsmanship are hallmarks of the company’s vehicles and products. Other companies under Callaway ownership include Callaway Carbon, which produces high value composite parts for aerospace and defense, Callaway Engineering, which delivers a full range of contract engineering and manufacturing services and Callaway Competition, which has one of the most successful GT3 race teams in FIA history. Callaway Competition develops, campaigns and supports Corvette racecars for national and international series around the world. Authorized by GM, Callaway Competition GmbH is the exclusive constructor of the Corvette C7 for GT3 competition outside of North America. For more information, visit callawaycars.com or call (860) 434-9002.