With the Pirelli World Challenge kicking off their 2018 season in our backyard, we headed over to St. Pete this morning to check out the first practice and get a closer look at the Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R racer that is making its North American racing debut this weekend.
I’ll admit that my history following the Pirelli World Challenge is limited, but now that Callaway has made a big investment to bring their Corvette C7 GT3-R to the USA, we are boning up on how the series works.
Like many other sports car racing series, the Pirelli World Challenge is made up of multi-class racing and those classes have both Pro and Amateur-rated drivers. The Callaway Competition USA’s Corvette C7 is a GT3-spec racer which puts it in the GT class of the PWC and Daniel Keilwitz is rated as a Pro driver. The PWC has 12 cars entered for this weekend’s Grand Prix at St. Petersburg in the GT class. Eight drivers are in the Pro class and there are four Amateur drivers. The event at St. Petersburg will feature two 1-hour races for PWC with qualifying on Saturday morning and the 1st race later that afternoon. The 2nd race will be held Sunday afternoon.
We caught the first practice on Friday morning from several vantage points. Callaway’s multi-color livery is very easy to spot and the silver accents really help identify the car. It’s got that deep Chevy V8 growl that we are all accustomed to and it looks very much at home on the track.
Following the first practice, Keilwitz put the Callaway into third place with a time of 1:12.459 and just .373 of a second from the leader Toni Vilander and his Ferrari 488 GT3-R.
In the second practice session on Friday afternoon, the class times improved with Keilwitz still in third with a time of 1:11.704 and now just .103 off of the GT class leader, Toni Vilander.
Here are some of the photos we took today from the first practice session. We’ll be back on Saturday to watch Callaway’s inaugural race with the green flag falling at 3:50 pm ET.