ADAC GT: Callaway Competition 2013 Season so far
Leading up to this weekends ADAC GT Masters season finale in Hockenheim, we look back at the season so far:
This years ADAC GT Masters Championship has certainly been one for the books. At the start of the season, the Leingarten based Callaway Competition team debuted their 2013 spec Corvette strongly, with the most successful Callaway drivers in recent years. New for this year was the addition of a paddle shift style gearbox as well as additional development updates. "We missed lifting the title in both driver and team standings last year by a very small margin but now intend to go back on the offensive with two sets of extremely solid drivers." explained team owner Ernst Woehr. "Diego Alessi and Daniel Keilwitz have proven during the past two years that they can consistently be up there with the front-runners, and everyone in the team is looking forward to the season ahead."
During the second race of the season (at Oschersleben), the team managed to capture their first win of the season, which was a collective team "birthday present" for Ernst Woehr. as Diego Alessi explained, "Daniel clearly had the more difficult job of us two. The team supplied us with a perfect car; it was so easy to drive. When I took over in the Corvette from Daniel, we were seven seconds ahead of the BMW, which gave me a very comfortable cushion and meant that I could control the race right through to the end. This victory is a belated birthday gift for our team principal Ernst Wöhr who turned 60 just recently."
After a few less than fortunate races, the team headed into the Summer break with a deficit in the championship most thought was looking out of reach. However with a busy slate of summer tyre testing complete, the team set their sights on the Austrian mountains for round 5 at the Red Bull Ring. The Italian and German duo of Alessi captured two unbelievable race wins by no less than 1 second in each race. This vaulted them back into title contention with 6 total races left. "We tested a lot in the summer and worked hard on the chassis of the Corvette together with Yokohama and our technology partner Bilstein," said Daniel Keilwitz. "We learned a lot about the suspension. By the time the Nürburgring came round, we had already made a clear step forward, but over the race distance, we were still having problems with the tyre performance. However, that wasn't the case at the Red Bull Ring where the tyres held up right to the end of the race."
With both of these wins, the team headed to round 6 at the Lausitzring with heavy success ballast and a slim chance at a repeat victory. For race 1, Alessi and Keilwitz could only manage 5 in Qualifying, which proved to be a blessing in disguise. Up front a heavy collision with the second place Porsche, while fighting the leading Audi meant a lengthy red flag period before what would be a shortened race. This meant that with cunning strategy on the pitwall, the team managed to take the lead and fight off a hard charging BMW Z4 of Dominik Baumann to the chequered flag. After Lausitzring the championship lead now dropped to only 3 points against their rivals. It would be a difficult challenge to win yet again at the as of yet unproven Slovakia Ring for Round 7.
While race 1 was rain drenched at the Slovakia Ring, race 2 was sunny and hot: perfect conditions for the Callaway Z06.R. After qualifying in tenth place at the start, the Corvette driver of Daniel Keilwitz managed to blitz the field in an amazing start, to take the lead heading into the first corner! Throughout race 2 the Corvette duo of Keilwitz and Alessi managed to hold off the vicious Audi R8 and Championship rivals Gotz and Buhk. After crossing the chequered flag, the team captured their fifth race win of the season, which was also the Championships 100th race. "I picked the perfect moment to step on the gas at the start of the race." explained Daniel Keilwitz. "I was a bit lucky, because the people at the front seemed to be slow off the mark. I had a completely clear run on the outside of the track, and I was quite surprised to find myself leading the field into the first corner. The temperature suited us far better today, and we had also made a few adjustments to the setup. The car was totally different to drive from the way it had been in qualifying. Last season, we went to Hockenheim as championship leaders and missed out on the title in the final race. I hope that we can do better this time round."
Diego Alessi shared his excitement as well after race two: "My thanks must go to Daniel, since we wouldn't have won without his great start. We went into the race with an aggressive strategy, as I didn't rate our chances better than P5 or P6. We weren't expecting to have such good speed in the race; that came as quite a surprise. In the last ten minutes of the race, I was having some problems with grip on the rear tyres, but that's quite normal at that stage. It's looking quite good for us at the moment, but that was also the case last year. I think that we will have a fight on our hands at Hockenheim."
Callaway Competition heads into the season finale this weekend at Hockenheim with a Drivers Championship lead of 14 points and a Teams Championship deficit of 9 points. Corvette Motorsport will be live at the track with exclusive content and updates throughout the race week.