GT Masters: Slovakia Ring Report
The strong summer momentum for Callaway Competition in the ADAC GT Masters continued into the Fifth Round of the highly competitive season. After the teams double victory at the Red Bull Ring in early June (with Daniel Keilwitz and Oliver Gavin), the team headed into the weekend with great expectations for another batch of good results. Exceptional weather greeted the team from Leingarten, with temperatures above 30 degrees. This played beautifully into the teams hands, with the Corvette performing optimally under these conditions.
Race 1 saw an excellent progression through the field in the hands of Wirth, handing over the nr1 Corvette to Keilwitz in 6th position. From there, Keilwitz managed to surge into 4th position behind the customer Z06.R entry of RWT Racing (who in the early parts of the race, was fighting for the lead). Despite a valiant effort (and a great scrap between them), time was not on Daniels side, which saw the nr1 cross the line home in 4th. However it also made way for a brilliant first podium for the Blue Corvette in the hands of David Jahn and Sven Barth.
"We could finally show what we are capable of this weekend," says RWT-pilot David Jahn after Race 1. "With this third place in the first race on Saturday, nobody had expected this fantastic result. At the restart I had to let the BMW's past, because my tyres faded a lot," says Barth. "And then fellow Corvette driver Daniel Keilwitz inched closer and closer. With the reigning champion right on my tail in last minutes of the race, it was truely no easy feat. But it was enough to finish third and the team was so happy for this result." Daniel Keilwitz was equally impressed by Barth. "The duel with Sven Barth for third place was very enjoyable. I would have liked to have overtaken him, but in the very fast corners, you lose immediately a lot of downforce on the front axle. If one is too close to the you get in the dirty air and and get oversteer. I would only have passed if I had a crowbar and that made no sense (due to the title fight). Fourth place is a good result, in the second run our aim will be the podium."
Sunday’s race 2 really couldn’t have gone more perfectly for Wirth and Keilwitz. After a brief fight for the lead with Diego Alessi in the #2 sister car, Daniel settled in and opened up a lead of over seven seconds before handing the car over to Andreas at the driver change. Doubling their lead to more than 15 seconds in just a few laps it seemed Wirth would drive to victory unchallenged. With only 13 minutes to go, excitement heightened as the safety car was deployed for an unusually long caution period to rescue a stranded competitor. With less than a minute to go, and an amazing lead completely neutralized the green and white flags flew. Nothing however, would stand between Wirth and victory as he launched his #1 Roller/Pilot Corvette clear of the competition in pursuit of the checkered flag.
"It was awesome to stand on top of the podium again," explains Wirth. "It was time for another victory. After bad luck in recent years, it feels so good to win a race again. I’ll be driving the entire second half of the season with Daniel, and our victory today was a perfect start for Daniels title charge." The weekend also saw a string of mixed results for their title rivals, which meant that the standings for Keilwitz now just see him 25 points away from first. With a total of 150pts still up for grab, its anyones title for the taking!
Elswehere in the field, a strong weekend as well saw both a top 10 and 4th place result for the sister nr2 Corvette of drivers Patrick Assenheimer and 2013 Champion Diego Alessi. The young German clearly showing great improvement in his debut season in the GT3 class (& Corvette). Rounding out the weekend of great results, was the Yellow Toni Seiler nr17 Z06.R pairing of Remo Lips and Leonard Marioneck. The duo captured back to back victories in the Gentlemans class as well! One final achievement this weekend, saw the Callaway Z06.R GT3 tie the all time record for the most successful GT3 car in the Series (tied at 19 with the Audi R8). A truely amazing result for the Z06.R which is also the most successful car in FIA GT series history.
Giovanni Ciccone- Callaway Competition Manager:
"We had some fortune on our side this weekend, however we also prepared intensively for the weekend. It was not simple for most of the teams over the weekend, simply because the track conditions and the grip often changed. Luckily we participated in the test session on the Thursday before the race and even tried out a lot of various settings. The weekend was perfect, I'm also very happy for the first podium of our friends from RWT Racing. Also great as apart from our third victory in four races, the sister car of Patrick Assenheimer and Diego Alessi came home 4th in Race 2. The fact that Patrick who is only in his tenth race in a GT3 car, having just missed out on a podium, is a great achievement."
Daniel Keilwitz- nr1 Callaway Competition:
(Race 1)- "The duel with Sven Barth for third place was very enjoyable. I would have liked to have overtaken him, but in the very fast corners, you lose immediately a lot of downforce on the front axle. If one is too close to the you get in the dirty air and and get oversteer. I would only have passed if I had a crowbar and that made no sense (due to the title fight). Fourth place is a good result, in the second run our aim will be the podium."
(Race 2)- "It was a perfect race weekend for us. Now I'm back in the title race. I had a great first half of the race, but unfortunately the late Safety Car managed to shrink down the lead I worked to built up. In the end it was again close, but Andreas was able to bring the car home to capture the win. Three wins in four races, reminds me very much of our great second half of the season last year. Lets hope we can repeat it again!"
Andreas Wirth- nr1 Callaway Competition:
(Race 2): "It was awesome to stand on top of the podium again – It was time for another victory. After bad luck in recent years, it feels so good to win a race again. I’ll be driving the entire second half of the season with Daniel, and our victory today was a perfect start - It was an awesome race! Daniel did an amazing job during the first stint, and despite the very hot temperatures we were still good with the tyres when I got behind the wheel. I didn’t have to risk much to protect our lead, but Callaway put a super car together for us and it was very fun to drive, so I could push a little. It’s great that I could finally get my first win for this team, and I look forward to helping Daniel defend the title by taking a few more.”
Diego Alessi- nr2 Callaway Competition:
"Our result is great, but also a podium would have been possible. I made a small mistake early in race 2, which unfortunately lost me two places. We will be aiming again to achieve this though in the coming races."
Patrick Assenheimer- nr2 Callaway Competition:
"In the final minutes of Race 2, tension in the cockpit was extremely high. My tactic was definitely to secure fourth place and if there was an opportunity to attack Claudia Hürtgen, I would have taken it. After only a small amount of races in the ADAC GT Masters, to come in 4th place is an absolute highlight for me. It definitely added to the 10th place achieved during the first race on Saturday (which was at that time, my best overall result). My thanks go to Diego, Giovanni and the entire team at Callaway who have supported me so perfectly throughout the season!"
Sven Barth- RWT Racing:
"We could finally show what we are capable of this weekend. With this third place in the first race on Saturday, nobody had expected this fantastic result. The RWT Racing team showed up well prepared and used the free test session on Thursday to good use (including some new changes to the the set-up).Our qualifying result was no surprise, due to how strong we were looking thus far. At the start of the race, Jahn took advantage of the strengths of the Corvette and was able to hand the car over to me in a good position. At the restart I had to let the BMW's past, because my tyres faded a lot and then fellow Corvette driver Daniel Keilwitz inched closer and closer. With the reigning champion right on my tail in last minutes of the race, it was truely no easy feat. But it was enough to finish thirs and the team was so happy for this result."
David Jahn- RWT Racing:
"I'm a little speechless, because we did not think that we could have had such a great race 1 result. I had hoped that we might achieve a top five, but not a podium. My start was good and I was able to take some advantage, but the BMW's were just extremely fast in the middle sector. The BMW was probably slightly better with their aero package than us, but in the end it was a great result."
Remo Lips- nr17 Toni Seiler Racing:
"I had contact initially at the start of race 1 with with an Audi and was also accidentally briefly on the Pit Limiter, Until I realized that I was last. We then worked our way back to the front and were able to catch up thanks to the safety car phase towards the end. Lenny was then able to bring the car back up for an incredible finish. Finally, we had a little bit of luck on our side."
Lennart Marioneck- nr17 Toni Seiler Racing:
"After the bad luck that Remo had at the start of Race 1, we have to thank the safety car phase, as we managed to bring ourselves back again into the fight. It was difficult in the last few laps with the tyres, but thanks to our power I was able to overtake the Porsche. Robert (in the Porsche) also played fair in the duel, which i was thankful for. During the last laps I was a bit faster than the others, so it worked out brilliantly."