Daniel Keilwitz believes that the new Corvette C7 GT3-R is capable of winning in its first season of competition after an encouraging debut in the GT Masters championship at Oschersleben.
Keilwitz and team-mate Jules Gounon made good progress in Race One to finish 7th after starting 14th and qualified second in Race Two before being eliminated in a first corner accident caused by Christian Engelhart’s Lamborghini.
The C7 GT3-R replaces the Z06.R GT3, which first competed in 2006.
“I think we have the chance to win races in the first year if we have no problems on the car and don’t get crashed by another one, that’s definitely our goal,” said the German ahead of Round Two at the Sachsenring this weekend. “Maybe the championship is a little bit too high [to aim for] at the moment because the car is still really new, but if we can finish in the top five at the end then that would be perfect.”
The Callaway Competition team operate on a tiny budget compared to other manufacturer operations and their long-serving driver, who has been with the team since 2010, has been impressed by the progress made in such a short period of time.
“It’s amazing the job they did on the new car, our budget is really small, which is also the reason why we only had three test days before the season,” said Keilwitz. “It’s amazing that we can keep up with the big guys – the first race at Oschersleben was the first time the car was running for one hour and we were quite surprised that it worked so well. It was a shame that we had the crash in the second race because I think we had a good chance to win.
“The car feels good over one lap and a stint also. We have a lot more downforce in the car which makes it very stable and at the end of the first race, we saw that we were one of the quickest cars, the same as the old Corvette which was also very good on its tyres.
“We have a lot to learn about the setup and how the car is working because everything is new – it’s just the engine from the old car to the new one – and there are some small problems that we have to sort out as with any new car, but with some more running I think the car can be really good.”
The C7 GT3-R is expected to make a first appearance on UK soil in the British GT championship later this year with US-pairing Eric Curran and Boris Said driving.