ADAC GT: Red Bull Ring Report
The 2014 season for the Callaway Competition Corvette team has proven to be another thrilling battle against the worlds best manufacturers. Round 4 of the German ADAC GT Masters took center stage at the Austrian Red Bull Ring circuit. The former "A1 Ring," owned by the Red Bull energy company, has proven to be a track perfectly suited for the Leingarten built GT3 Corvettes.
The team entered the weekend with high hopes and an aim at victory. Once again spear-heading their charge was 2013 GT Masters champion Daniel Keilwitz, and assisted by factory Corvette driver Oliver Gavin. The weekend started out perfectly for the German/British duo, which saw both drivers capture double pole positions for both races. "By booking the pole position twice, we have the best prospects this weekend," said Keilwitz, whose double victory at the Red Bull Ring last year paved the way to ultimately taking the 2013 title. "Now we have to convert that into race results, which certainly won't be easy."
Race 1 saw a clean start and opening lap stint from Oliver Gavin, ahead of the recently improved Reiter Engineering Chevrolet Camaro. A late pitstop by the team proved very decisive for the Z06.R. "Unlike the pursuing group, we came into the pits quite late and had a clear track ahead of us after the driver changeover," said Keilwitz. "Meanwhile, our competitors hit traffic, which enabled me to build up a comfortable lead. But in some ways, that made for a more difficult race than when you're having to fight for position, because you're more inclined to be careless, and that's when mistakes start to creep in."
In the end though Race 1 was near flawless, with a victory margin of 5.8 seconds ahead of the late charging Camaro. "The Camaro was incredibly quick - as a Chevrolet works driver, I'm really pleased to see two Chevy's out in front at the finish. I had a clean start and soon found my rhythm. Things got quite interesting, though, just before our driver changeover when I closed on a couple of backmarkers who had already swapped drivers. We knew that this circuit suited the Corvette, and I'm pleased that Daniel and I have achieved such a good result for Callaway."
Race 2 proved to be a tougher battle for the team from Leingarten with a 30 kilo penalty weight added after Saturdays victory. The opening portion of the race was tightly controlled by the black Reiter Camaro of Tomas Enge. The Czech driver seized the lead from Keilwitz on the first corner, and worse still for the pole-sitter, he had to cede second place to Callaway Competition team-mate Jeroen Bleekemolen. Enge and Bleekemolen then proceeded to pull out a five-second lead on the pursuing pack before discovering that they had each been handed a five-second penalty for an infringement at the start, which was to be served during the driver changeover.
As the pit stop window was opening, a spin by Sven Barth in his RWT Racing Team Corvette brought outthe safety car. The entire field took advantage of the safety car deployment and dashed into the pit laneto change drivers. The pit stop was where Enge's impressive run came to an end. As the Czech driver was pulling out of the penalty box (after serving his five-second penalty), the drive shaft sheared on his car. The immobile Camaro then blocked Bleekemolen who was serving his penalty at the same time behind him. This robbed the Dutchman of 20 valuable raceseconds. The outcome was that the third-placed Corvette of Gavin and Keilwitz emerged from the pits ahead of the Prosperia Audi!
With a controlling second stint by Gavin, the team notched up their 18th ADAC GT win, and another back to back achievement. "Daniel drove brilliantly in the first stint of the race and kept us up with the leaders," said Gavin, singing his team-mate's praises. "When the two front-runners were both handed penalties, we were quick to seize our chance. I hope that Daniel can use this double victory to form the basis of a successful title challenge in the second half of the season." Keilwitz was equally happy: "I was unable to find a reply to the Camaro's power at the start, but the safety car deployment helped us a great deal," said Keilwitz. "Not only did we take the lead, we were able to nurse the car for a few laps in the extremely hot conditions."
In the Gentlemans class for race 1 saw a heart-stopping finale, with Switzerland's Toni Seiler (56) securing a second win of the season in his Callaway Corvette. Fellow Swiss competitor (and teammate) Remo Lips had looked like sure winners until the final lap, which saw Marioneck out of fuel over the last hundred metres. Seiler's Dutch team-mate Jeroen Bleekemolen sailed past to make this an absolutely perfect weekend for Callaway Competition.
Team owner Giovanni Ciccone was very pleased at the overall results of the weekend: "Daniel and Oliver have a shown a very strong performance. The Red Bull Ring is our most suitable track, so therefore a victory was almost a mandatory. The fact that we were able to repeat our double victory from last year at the end was great, but was definitely not expected. Also, Patrick and Diego have shined in the second race and was up near the front ahead of some significant competitors. I have to congratulate Hans Reiter. He and his team have done a great job with the Camaro. Too bad they were unlucky in race 2. We also enjoyed how about our victory was received positively. Especially by Albert von Thurn und Taxis. Albert is one of the finest people around the pits. With such opponents, he definitely makes racing fun."
Oliver Gavin: "It was pure unadulterated motorsport, with nobody giving an inch. Winning both races here is such a fantastic feeling; it’s far more than we expected. The two victories are more than we expected. As the two leaders have received penalties in the second race, we were there to benefit from it. I hope this double victory for Daniel is the springboard for the title fight in the second half of the season. My thanks go to Giovanni Ciccone, Ernst Woehr, Mike Gramke and the entire team of Callaway, who did a fantastic job and have handed us an absolutely perfect car."