Disappointing season start at Silverstone
Callaway Competition experienced a bitter weekend at the season opener of the FIA GT3 European championship at Silverstone. At short notice, automobile organization FIA changed the classification for the Corvette Z06. R GT3 developed by Callaway Competition Leingarten/Germany four days before the race. With the handicap of the unexpected and short-term change, both Callaway Competition-Corvette had no chance at Silverstone.
For the 2009 season, the FIA decided that the Callaway-Corvette had to start on a softer tyre compound than previously used. To adapt the soft tires on the Corvette, Callaway starts this season with less weight, and as a countermove, also with lower engine power due to a smaller air restrictor. To the adaptation of the new tyre, news springs were developed, as well as a new exhaust to cope with the smaller air restrictor. The new springs and the new exhaust system were tested during both FIA "Balance of Performance" tests and were sanctioned without any difficulty.
Unexpectedly, the permission of the exhaust and the springs was pulled back four days before the first race at Silverstone. The exhaust system might remain in the cars after long negotiations in Silverstone, but the new springs might not be mounted. Thus both Callaway-Corvette had to start into the race with an unsuitable and never before tested spring/tyre configuration.
"We really can't understand this decision," Callaway Competition team principal Ernst Wohr said. "We took part in various "Balance of Performance" test before the season. During these tests, the new parts were found o.k. and four days before the season starts, everything is put on the head. If we act like this, we really don't need any "Balance of Performance" tests. Beside this, we spent a lot of money for development and testing of these new components, which are now useless."
The first race on Saturday made clear the plight with the untested configuration: The tires of the Corvette had set off up to the canvas after the 60 minute race. "In the current configuration this tyre compound was classified dangerous for our cars even by tyre supplier Michelin! We will never again take part in any race with this configuration, we can't take the responsibility in regard of the safety of our drivers," explained Ernst Wohr.
A protest submitted by Callaway Competition on site along with an application for change of the tires remained unsuccessful. The tyre manufacturer wasn't able the hand over a necessary statement to the Stewards of the meeting in time before the second race on Sunday.
So Jurgen von Gartzen and the reining European champion Arnaud Peyroles finished only 23. in the first race on Saturday. Wolfgang Kaufmann/Luca Moro retired after a collision. In the second race Gartzen/Peyroles could only not much little better with rank 14., Kaufmann/Moro finished 22.
"Now we hope for a quick decision of the FIA before the next race at Adria in two weeks", said Ernst Wohr.