VLN: Callaway Competition against all odds at the Nürburgring
The 40th running of the grueling 24 Hours of Nurburgring is now over. A gaggle of factory backed German built sports cars from Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche dominated the top ten finishers at the checkered flag. Against these odds one Callaway Competition Corvette Z06R GT3, built in Leingarten, Germany, entered this historic race with the odds stacked against them. This private team has faced these odds before and has captured many international championships that prove their competitiveness.
To help improve their odds they secured sponsorship from the Haribo Candy Company. Haribo is celebrating their 90th Anniversary and picked this Corvette as a way to promote this milestone event. In addition the team brought a very impressive driver lineup including three factory Corvette drivers. This included Jan Magnussen, Richard Westbrook and Tommy Milner. Rounding out this trio was hot shoe Daniel Keliwitz, winner of the 2010 FIA GT3 Drivers Championship.
During qualifying, the team completed one hot lap at 8:24.901 to capture the 18th starting position. By the end of the first hour Westbrook had moved the thundering Corvette up to 10th position overall and was only 15 seconds behind first place. Unfortunately during the early stages of the race, the course contained shards of broken carbon fiber and debris. Westbrook punctured his right rear tire, which caused extensive damage to the Corvette. This included the wiring, bodywork, battery, and many other smaller parts. Westbrook was unable to return the Corvette under its own power and had to be towed back to the pit box.
The team wanted to desperately finish the race, so they set to work putting the car back into running condition. It finally returned thirty laps down behind the leader in about 158th position. They decided to push on, to both test the reliability of the Corvette and gain valuable driver feedback at this car killing circuit. Remember, one lap is 15.2 miles. The team was setting a torrid pace into the night, until a starter issue in the pits required the mechanics to replace the battery, starter, and electric throttle body (due to the earlier crash). The only mechanical item replaced during the race was the front brake pads and discs, once. The morning stint yielded rain at the circuit. During this time, Jan Magnussen managed the best lap time over several laps. From that point on, the teams goal in the end was trying to finished 90th, because of the the 90th Aniversary of Haribo next month.
By the 23rd hour the Corvette drivers had moved the Haribo car up to 89th position, which gained lot of attention from the live TV broadcast for its pace. This included dramatic footage of the Corvette flying over a hill near Flugplatz with all four wheels high in the air! Sadly roughly twenty minutes from the end, it was all over for the Haribo Corvette when it pitted with a major mechanical problem and was unable to continue. It was listed in 120th position out of 177 entries. It was a valiant effort for the dejected team, but a splendid effort nonetheless.