Half-Time Masters: Callaway Competition with Keilwitz & Kirchhöfer Still Championship
Leaders ADAC GT Masters - Nürburgring, August 3-5, 2018
It was a bitter weekend for Callaway Competition at the Nürburgring. However, despite two DNF's, Callaway Competition is still the half-time series champion and remains the leader in the Super Sports Car League.
After an eight-week summer break, the ADAC GT Masters started its second half of the season last weekend (August 4-5) and the Callaway team, headed by Team Manager Mike Gramke, had to swallow a bitter pill.
A sweltering heat of over 30ºC (86º F) already presented drivers and their GT cars with an enormous challenge, but it wasn't enough to overshadow the dramatic race weekend for the Corvette team from Leingarten.
After the double success in Spielberg, the Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R was slowed down by the "Balance of Performance" and the associated success ballast. Nevertheless, the duo of Keilwitz and Kirchhöfer delivered an entire weekend of impeccable performance. Unfortunately, however, it was not rewarded with any additional points.
Marvin Kirchhöfer (24/Markkleeberg) had to park the #1 Valvoline/ROLLER Corvette early in the first race on Saturday. After a great start from seventh position, Kirchhöfer got into the middle of the traffic jam in the first turn of Lap One where there was fairly heavy contact with a competitor. The result of the contact was felt in the steering wheel increasingly as the race wore on, until the Corvette was ultimately pulled out of the race.
In the Drivers' Championship points standings, nothing changed at the top as Callaway's pursuers could not score enough points. So the mini-title of "Autumn Champion" was secured. By finishing fourth, the Mercedes pairing of Markus Pommer and Maximilian Götz became the closest pursuer, behind by 22 points.
On Sunday, which was also the start of the second half of the season, Daniel Keilwitz (28/Villingen) secured a good starting position for the race in a very close qualifying session, P10. And this took all of the 28-year-old's experience. With a remarkable start, the Corvette shot up to third, but then had to fall in line after the first turn behind Mercedes driver Maximilian Götz. Then it didn't take long for Keilwitz to get past Götz.
On Lap 14, disaster struck. The Corvette C7 GT3-R suddenly slowed down and eventually had to retire because of a faulty alternator.
In ADAC GT Masters Drivers' Championship points standings, Keilwitz and Kirchhöfer are ahead, but the margin between first and second place has shrunk to one point.
"We knew it wouldn't be an easy weekend. However, in the end, it was even worse than we thought it would be. If you're in P3 and then eliminated because of a technical defect, that's very disappointing. We have to check off the weekend very quickly." Daniel Keilwitz (28/Villingen)
"It's very annoying. But we can't fall into an abyss now. I think we showed last weekend that, even on tracks that don't particularly suit the Corvette, we can play well. In Zandvoort, we'll give it our all once again." Marvin Kirchhöfer (24/Markkleeberg)
"Expectations were not particularly high as we approached the Nürburgring event. Nevertheless, during the weekend, twice we put ourselves in a promising position and then lost it all. The Team has enough experience to deal with such setbacks; we'll accept the positives and keep working hard." Callaway Team Manager Mike Gramke.
There are six races remaining on the 2018 ADAC GT Masters schedule: at Zandvoort in the Netherlands (August 17-19), at the Sachsenring (September 7-9) and at the Hockenheimring (September 21-23).
Text: A.Dannenberg / Motorsport-Karriere.de
Foto: Burkhard Kasan