Callaway Competition celebrates ADAC GT Masters Championship. Image: ADAC.
Diego Alessi, Daniel Keilwitz and Callaway Competition did it: On Sunday, the Alessi/Keilwitz team clinched the ADAC GT Masters title at Hockenheimring with their Callaway Competition-designed and built Corvette Z06.R GT3. At Hockenheim, Callaway’s home track, Diego and Daniel finished fifth in the Saturday race and sixth in the Sunday race on their way to the title. The drivers of the ROLLER-Corvette had an impressive season, driving to five victories in the ADAC GT Masters series. This is Callaway Competition’s second ADAC GT Masters Team Championship, the oldest team in the series. Their first ADAC GT Masters Team Championship came in 2009.
The way to the title in the final two races was difficult and dramatic. In Saturday’s race, everything went according to plan. From grid position 10, the ROLLER-Corvette finished the race fifth. “After our last victory at the Slovakia Ring, we had to add 30 kg of ‘performance-equalizing’ ballast for qualifying and for the first race. Naturally, this was very noticeable, so fifth place was an ideal result.”
The Sunday race started with a shock: On the opening lap, Keilwitz, starting in fourth position, was spun around in the hairpin bend by DB Motorsport’s BMW Z4. Keilwitz could continue the race, but in last place. The 24-year-old started an attack from the back of the field, gaining one position after another. By the time teammate Alessi took over, Keilwitz was already in tenth place. In the second half of the race, once the second place Mercedes-Benz of Götz and Buhk retired following an engine failure, Alessi could ease up a bit. It wasn’t time to relax yet, however, because a Porsche and a BMW were still in the hunt for the title. Alessi brought the ROLLER-Corvette to sixth place and so secured the championship title.
“After spinning in the first turn, for a moment I had already given up”, Keilwitz described the dramatic race. “I just couldn’t believe that we could lose the title in such a way, and I attacked. It was time for us to go get the title. I just couldn’t let us lose the title again in the last race.” Daniel was referring to last year’s effort when the points lead was lost in the final race of the season.
“I am absolutely speechless and can’t even believe what just happened. In my career, I have seen a lot,” said an overjoyed Alessi. “That’s why, after Daniel’s spin in the first lap, I just resigned myself and thought that it’s just not going to happen this year. But then the Motorsport-god apparently changed his mind. Then, after the bad luck of the Mercedes-Benz, we could ease up a bit.”
“After the spin I thought, everything is over, because it would have been impossible to go from the very back to the front,” said Callaway Competition’s Giovanni Ciccone. “But we had a bit of luck and all the other drivers in the field drove Daniel and Diego very cleanly during their comeback. We already made several attempts for the title; now it finally worked. The title for us is just crazy, if you consider the good drivers and teams in the fight for the title. . . . A big thanks to the whole team from the ADAC, for the great work and for the teams always having an open ear. Our concerns are always taken seriously.”
At season-end, once again there were Callaway Competition podium finishes in the Gentlemen-Class. Toni Seiler and Jeroen Bleekemolen finished second in the first race, Remo Lips and Lennart Marioneck came in third in both races. Lips ended the season in third place in the Gentlemen-Class.