INDIANAPOLIS – Callaway Competition USA officially broke cover on the new Corvette C7 GT3-R that they field in the Pirelli World Challenge next season on Thursday at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show inside the Indiana Convention Center.
In addition to the car unveiling, the team also confirmed that Daniel Keilwitz and Michael Cooper will drive for the team full-time in the Pirelli World Challenge GT class.
The car reveal and drive announcements were the latest step in a long process for Callaway Competition USA and team owner Reeves Callaway, who have been working tirelessly to bring the Corvette C7 GT3-R to the United States.
“When you want to compete in GT3 you have to be the original equipment manufacturer of the automobile. We’re not, we’re a specialist,” Reeves explained. “We got assigned that privilege by GM with the understanding that we build and develop and race those cars in Europe and world wide, but not necessarily in North America.”
Reeves said that when Cadillac Racing announced they would not return to competition in 2018, that opened the door for Callaway to bring the Corvette C7 GT3-R to North America for the first time.
“When the Cadillac program sunsetted, that was our opportunity to bring the car to North America without restraint,” Reeves said. “So General Motors and ourselves decided this would be the debut year of the GT3 version of the Corvette.”
Cooper and Keilwitz are both veteran racers. Keilwitz has raced for Callaway Competition in Europe for more than six years, winning multiple races and championships while also helping to develop the Corvette C7 GT3-R. Cooper most recently drove for the Cadillac Racing program, winning the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge SprintX championship.
Reeves believes the duo of Cooper and Keilwitz are the perfect pair to help lead the program in 2018.
“There is a certain trial by fire that happens in sports car competition worldwide and isn’t it wonderful that this GT3 class actually gives everybody an equal horse to ride? Six, seven, right different brands qualifying within the same second. That’s a remarkable achievement that’s never really happened before,” Reeves said. “Finding a driver team who can make an equally matched machine move to the front is not easy. That’s a special talent.
“Danny Keilwitz in Germany and Michael Cooper here, both of them display that ability.”
As previously announced, Callaway Competition USA plans to field the factory program in 2018 before transitioning to a customer program in 2019 and beyond. The hope is to put together a strong season in 2018 to properly sell the program to potential customers the following season.
“We are a commercial manufacturer of racing cars. We have to build and sell the brand the same way Porsche and Audi does,” Reeves explained. “So he best way to do that is to make the car available to race teams who can carry the responsibility of racing forward.
“We want to launch the car and hopefully give it a good reputation, build sales during 2018, fulfill those sales orders and support customers without racing against them.”
Source : speedsport.com