During the summer of 2005, a decision was made to transform selected Z06 road cars into a new breed of racer to compete in the world’s top GT3 championships.
The first series to introduce this new GT3 class was the SRO and FIA’s GT3 Championship. The first export car (vin #83 Z06) was sent to Team Carsport Europe owned by Toine Hezemans for evaluation. Based on their racetrack test results, Team Carsport saw instant potential in the car. Hezemans contracted Callaway Competition (in conjunction with Corvette Europe) to convert the street Z06 into a GT3 Z06R. Director Ernst Woehr jumped at the chance to work on the new Z06.
The first car was stunning. After a great inaugural season in the form of 2 teams, a new group of teams took interest in the car for 2007. The first customer teams to take ownership of the new car included Peka Racing of Belgium, Rene Snel, Chris Kissling in Germany, and the Czech based MM Racing.
With new teams, names, sponsors, and drivers, the Z06R looked even stronger for the 2007 season. After several strong finishes, the car notched up its first win at the first round of the Belcar Series at Zolder.
Also claiming their first win was Martini-Callaway at Monza with a thrilling pass on the outside of the RPM Viper. The Z06R later went on to claim wins in Brno (back to back) , as well as in Dubai. The win in Dubai propelled Callaway to claim the first title win for the car (Team champions).
Martini-Callaway Corvettes Wins FIA GT3 Manufacturer’s Championship
Leingarten, Germany – After an incredible season that started with a podium finish at Silverstone, followed by three first and three second place finishes across Europe and ending with a hard-fought fourth place at Dubai, the three-car Martini-Callaway Z06.R Corvette race team has captured the 2007 FIA GT3 Team Championship. Drivers Luca Pirri and Jurgen von Gartzen were also named runners-up in the GT3 Driver’s Championship.
Built and campaigned by Callaway Competition GmbH in Leingarten, Germany, the Z06.R is the FIA GT3 homologated version of the Z06 road car. The FIA series showcases competition between exotics including, Aston-Martin, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Maserati and Porsche and Viper, in a very near road-going configuration. The three-car Martini-Callaway Corvette team achieved the victory with six fantastic drivers behind the wheel, including Pirri and von Gartzen, Uli Berberich-Martini, Klaus Ludwig, Jiri Skula and Martin Matzke.
“The Corvette is a very exciting platform, a true world-class sports car,” says Callaway Competition Director and Team Manager Ernst Woehr. “This was a hard-earned victory for the Callaway team, from the drivers and crew members to our engineering partners at the Callaway Connecticut facility. We took an impressive street car and transformed it into a world champion.”
The winning cars started life as standard Z06 Corvettes, and Callaway Competition, which has experience in FIA road racing, LeMans, and other top European series, prepared the 500 hp sports cars as competition-competent racers. Woehr and his Callaway Competition partner Giovanni Ciccone were well-versed in the latest Corvette technology long before the Z06 Corvettes cars rolled into the Leingarten facility. Their partner company, Callaway Cars in Old Lyme Connecticut, engineers engine, chassis and body modifications on Corvettes stateside. This provided the Callaway Competition baseline performance information that was applied to the racecars.
The first three Corvettes were constructed to the FIA regulations as GT3 racing machines, followed shortly by several more for privateer efforts. There are currently 10 Callaway-built Z06.R racecars competing in the FIA GT3 Championship, the ADAC Masters and the Belcar (Belgian National) series. Many of the technologies and performance modifications utilized in race program are also employed on Callaway’s line of Corvette-based road cars.
“The FIA Series Championship is particularly good for us as a road car manufacturer because we get to compete nose to nose with the brands that Callaway Cars sells against: Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Viper and Jaguar,” says company founder Reeves Callaway. “To beat them on the track, in such a competitive arena, speaks volumes about our cars being the genuine article. Note that this series is ultra competitive all through the field -the first ten cars usually finish under a blanket. I wish the format were brought to the USA.”
Story by Corvette Motorsport, Callaway Competition GmbH