N24: Guttroff/Bonk Motorsport captures first Corvette Victory
The worlds top endurance sports cars set the stage again for this years edition of the Nurburgring 24 Hours. Located in the Eifel forest region of Germany, the race is one of the worlds most challenging sports car endurance races. The race once again held up to the name of the “Green Hell.” After opening in 1927, the track today consists of two circuits: the 2.3-mile Grand Prix circuit, which opened in 1984 and the Nordschleife or North Course.
The Nordschleife winds through the German forest for 12.9 miles, with the start finish line located on the Grand Prix course near the historic town of Nurburg. After a full assault on the top GT3 category in 2012 with the Haribo Callaway team, the flag was again carried by Corvette. This time though, in the lower SP8 category with Guttroff/Bonk Motorsport in their Callaway C6 Corvette. This particular team is one of the oldest teams competing with their Callaway racer. Once brought to life in the Bowling Green Assembly plant as "Ex" numbered cars, their C6 GT4 would later go on to compete in some of the worlds toughest endurances races under the modified "SP8" category. This includes the Dubai 24 Hours, Barcelona 24, and multiple Nurburgring 24hr's. The particular category allows the C6 GT4 to run with select GT3 exterior parts and upgrades, but not a fully fledged GT3 specification. The SP8 category this year, was by no means a "lower" category. Competing against this Corvette privateer team were no less than two factory supported entries from both Lexus (racing the LFA supercar) and Aston Martin (with a V8 Vantage), as well as a Ferrari F458.
Tobias Guttroff (Nr81 Corvette C6):
"The event started out well, with only minor adjustments needed to the car during Free Practice. During the 1st qualifying (at night), we decided to run the minimum amount of timed laps, in order to preserve any spare parts that might be needed during the event. In the end of the final qualifying session, we narrowly missed out on the top 40 shoot out session (qualifying p43) due to a large amount of yellow (and eventually red) flags near the end of the session. When the race started with Joachim Kiesch, our objective for the race was to keep focused and to bring the car home without any stops in the pits for repairs. The car was excellent to drive, which meant we could perform some really good laps, but while also being safe. Our main advantage we had with keeping up the pace with the leading Ferrari at the time, was that we were able to manage the minimal amount of stops in the pits."
"I have to admit, that my co-drivers Arno Klasen and Volker Strycek (who were driving the Corvette for the first time) did an excellent job with conservative driving and quick lap times throughout the race. The Red flag came out for a long amount of time during the night, which meant the crew was able to rest and 're-charge their batteries.' After the restart we could continue with safe and quick driving and in the end the result was perfect. I remember at the end of the race, Volker Strycek happily said to me: 'We won, so what more can you do? Everything was really great.' The Team (Bonk Motorsport with support from Callaway) did a really great job, which helped ensure that everything went well, including all of our pit stops. The preparation was at the highest level. The conditions were very tricky, but overall the drivers said the car was excellent to drive in both wet and dry conditions and that it was built very solidly by Callaway and a ton of fun to drive."
The win marks Corvettes first win at this legendary race, but certainly not the last.