With Cadillac’s Pirelli World Challenge program coming to an end, Callaway is moving forward in offering its Corvette C7 GT3-R to customers in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Pirelli Word Challenge, with the company able to support up to two teams next year, according to Reeves Callaway.
The U.S.-based manufacturer, through its German operations, have fielded the self-built car in ADAC GT Masters since 2016, winning this year’s highly competitive championship with Jules Gounon and Daniel Keilwitz.
Callaway, however, had been unable to race or offer its Corvette for sale in the U.S. due to a GT3 exclusivity agreement with GM, which signed off on the car’s homologation in exchange for allowing its Cadillac ATS-V.R to compete as the sole GM-based model in North America.
“It was with the understanding we would sell those cars worldwide to race teams, in all markets except North America, until Cadillac sun-setted the program. That appears to have happened,” Callaway told Sportscar365.
“Now the door’s open for us to campaign the car in North America. We’re excited about it.”
The company founder is now personally working to secure initial car sales to customer teams, potentially for both series, ahead of the 2018 seasons.
“There’s lots of activity right now,” Callaway said. “As you can imagine, it’s both ways. We’re trying to see what’s going to be the best route for us to enter competition in North America.
“It’s early days. We have a lot of work to do, a lot teams to meet and talk to.
“The nice news is that everyone thinks this is a good idea, [in] putting another GT3 car in the field. Everybody’s excited about it, from the teams to the organizers.”
Callaway said they plan to provide a full support package to teams, including trackside engineering and spares, but admitted they can probably only support two “good front-running teams” next year, due to the short notice.
“Heading into 2019, that might be a different story but we have to grow this program step by step,” he said. “You can imagine the importance of making a good impression on the first outing.
“We just have to align ourselves with the right, capable teams in either series.
“Now the car’s mature. It’s got great durability; it’s a very strong car. It runs at the pointy end of the field. And it’s running costs, as you’d expect with a Corvette, are very reasonable.
“We have to approach this from a commercial point of view. We have to take orders, build cars, supply them on time and support them. It isn’t a case of building an inventory; these cars are built on a per-order basis.”
While three cars have been built for competition in GT Masters, Callaway said they currently have one additional, brand-new chassis.
Additional cars are likely to continue to be built at its workshop in Germany, although Callaway said they have the capacity to build new GT3 cars at its facilities in California and Connecticut in the future.
Callaway said they’ve ruled out running a program under its own banner in the U.S., and said its customers will dictate where the car is raced next year.
“Each [series] has their perks, if you will,” he said. “The WeatherTech Championship is a great, super competitive field.
“The PWC side is a format that we’re very used to [in Europe] with one-hour races with driver changes. That would be an easy thing to step into.
“Frankly it will depend on which teams step forward on who want to carry this banner.”
The company plans to have a Callaway Corvette on display at the PRI show in December, with Callaway traveling to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for this weekend’s inaugural California 8 Hours Intercontinental GT Challenge round to meet with prospective customers.
Atherton: Callaway Falls Under GM Agreement
IMSA President Scott Atherton says the Callaway Corvette will be eligible to compete in the GT Daytona class without an additional manufacturer agreement, as the car would fall under the sanctioning body’s existing partnership with GM.
“They would be recognized as a GM product,” Atherton told Sportscar365. “An existing relationship is already there.
“The car would have to go through the same process of all cars competing in the WeatherTech Championship; it’d have to go to the wind tunnel. We’d have to dyno the engine; we’d have to know what we’re entering.”