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ADAC GT Masters Red Bull Ring
ANNIVERSARY IN STYRIA: CALLAWAY CORVETTE AND ADAC GT MASTERS WITH 200TH RACES
At the fifth round of the ADAC GT Masters in Styria, a Callaway Corvette took to the starting line for the 200th time. A historic milestone that should not really be appreciated from a sporting point of view. The Corvette team from Leingarten Germany finished the two GT Masters races on the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg in 21st and 18th place.
They gave their all, with little accomplished: Last weekend, October 16-18, Callaway Competition had to settle for finishing 21st and 18th at the fifth round of the ADAC GT Masters in Spielberg, Austria.
After the surprising win at the Sachsenring, the team had hoped to find their way back to their winning ways. At the Red Bull Ring, where they had always been successful in previous years, the team from Leingarten wanted to build on their form and continue their momentum. But as soon as they arrived, looking at the snow-covered mountain peaks, they began to think that it would be a very difficult weekend.
The fifth race of the season, held in Austria, was rescheduled later in the season due to the Corona pandemic, so the two Corvette drivers Markus Pommer (29 / Heilbronn Germany) and Jeffrey Schmidt (26 / Liestal Switzerland) found that they had to deal with adverse and unstable weather conditions. Temperatures just above freezing and intermittent rain prevented the Corvette duo from practicing with a proper setup.
Saturday didn't go much better for the team. In the morning, Markus Pommer, as usual, competed in the first qualifying session of the weekend, and came up short in the chase for the best starting position. Race officials imposed a penalty for an alleged violation of the "track limits", which later triggered a heated discussion.
The “track limits”, the white boundaries of the track, do not cause suspensions to break and tires to flatten like the yellow curbs from last year, but they should be avoided anyway. Race officials took tough action if a driver was observed violating the "track limits" rule.
A detailed clarification could not be established before the Saturday race due to the short time window and the #77 Corvette had to start the race from the back of the field. In the first of the two hour-long races on the Formula 1 circuit, the Callaway Competition team fought its way to 21st place with its two drivers and a lot of effort.
In the first race of the “League of Super Sports Cars” at the Red Bull Ring there were so many violations of the “track limits” that race management was unable to enforce the rule consistently. It was impossible to track all the infractions. Ultimately, the result was an additional driver's meeting in the evening to clarify the issue and to determine what to do if the “track limits” rule were violated.
For the Swiss Corvette driver, Jeffrey Schmidt from Callaway Competition, things went a little better on Sunday morning. With an ambient temperature of 3ºC (37ºF) and rays of autumn sunshine, he set a strong lap time. However, it was 0.246 seconds behind the coveted pole position. Jeffrey Schmidt and Callaway Competition had to accept starting 13th on the grid. The starting field, which consisted of thirty vehicles, was so close that 26 of them were within a second. It was certainly not the best starting position for the Callaway Corvette, but confidence in the driver and vehicle gave hope for picking up championship points.
The 200th anniversary race of the world's strongest German national GT series was held on Sunday. A Corvette developed and constructed by Callaway has competed in the series each year since 2007. But it didn’t go as planned. The hotly debated topic of the “track limit” came up again in the first half hour of the race. Like many other teams, Jeffrey Schmidt and Markus Pommer again fell victim to what seemed to be a very difficult and complicated subject.
According to race officials, the Callaway Corvette exceeded the “track limit” specifications several times, so that it received two drive-through penalties. The race for Schmidt and Pommer was practically over.
In the end, the Corvette crossed the finish line in 18th place. Despite the two infractions, the team missed securing any points by just two positions.
Now, in less than two weeks, the Corvette team will be heading back to the DEKRA Lausitzring, where the ADAC GT Masters started the season in July, after the originally-scheduled race in Zandvoort in the Netherlands was canceled. The number of recently infected people with the COVID-19 virus was too high in the newly designated risk area of the Netherlands for a race weekend to be possible.
“The weekend was really disappointing. In the first practice session, we realized that it was going to be very difficult for us. We struggled very hard with the classification (success ballast), which the practice results had shown. Unfortunately, it dragged on through the whole weekend, and then we also had the problem with the ‘track limits’. Logically, not much was going to happen if you had to start from that far behind. Then on Sunday, I got everything out of the Corvette and still, with a perfect lap, was only good enough for 13th place. The start of the race was not that great as I got boxed in and couldn't turn left. I lost a few positions on the wet grass. As far as the penalties are concerned, I still don't quite understand. When you’re so close to the car in front of you, you can no longer see the lines. You're just very focused on the car in front. I think there is an enormous need for clarification because we want to deliver a great and exciting sport to the fans.” Jeffrey Schmidt (26 / Liestal Switzerland)
“The race at the Red Bull Ring was overshadowed by penalties and track limits. These problems have been known at the Red Bull Ring for years, but this time we were particularly affected. But that's the sport. The same rules apply to everyone. It happened to many racers over the weekend. Unfortunately, it happened several times to us. If you sit very low and drive to the limit and fight for every tenth, it can happen. It was also about centimeters, which you as a driver in the car cannot necessarily assess exactly. Especially not during the race, when you’re concentrating on the car in front of you. Aside from that, we had to struggle with the added ballast in the Corvette in the first race. If you start from the back and want to work your way forward with a full tank of fuel, it’s quite difficult. On Sunday, you could see that, without success ballast, I found a good rhythm and I could set competitive times.” Markus Pommer (29 / Heilbronn Germany)
“My fears came true. It was expected to be, and it was, a very difficult weekend. We’ve never competed at the Red Bull Ring in such cold weather. We just fought without weapons. This ‘track limit’ fiasco not only hurt us but the entire GT Masters; it has nothing to do with promoting entertaining and fair sport. It goes without saying that all drivers must adhere to the assigned track limits. However, the penalty is disproportionate to the possible advantage. No driver who’s racing a competitor at a distance of centimeters disregards the track limits on purpose, he simply does not see them.” Mike Gramke (Team Principal)
ADAC GT Masters 2020:
30.10. – 01.11.2020 Circuit Zandvoort (NED)
06.11. – 08.11.2020 Motorsport Arena Oschersleben FINALE
Text: A.Dannenberg / Motorsport-Karriere.de
Foto: Axel Weichert