Williams secures best team qualifying result since 2006

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Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa will undoubtedly be coming away from the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with big smiles tonight after they qualified in fourth and fifth place respectively.

After both drivers ran well during FP3, qualifying saw them continue to show good pace, and they even sat first and second at one point in Q2 before Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg came back out and went quicker for Mercedes.

In Q3, Bottas produced a fine display to qualify in fourth place, and he was just 0.002 seconds shy of Sebastian Vettel in third place. It continues his fine record of good qualifying performances in Canada, having finished third in last year’s wet session on Saturday. He could not continue this form in the race, though, and faded before finishing outside of the points.

Massa, on the other hand, is no stranger to qualifying up the order during his days with Ferrari. However, this result will still come as a surprise to him after a few difficult years, and will be made all the sweeter by the fact that he is ahead of both ex-teammate Fernando Alonso and his replacement, Kimi Raikkonen.

The result marks Williams’ first two-car finish in the top five of qualifying since the 2006 Malaysian Grand Prix, where Nico Rosberg started from third and Mark Webber was fifth for the team. Neither driver managed to finish the race, though. Pastor Maldonado did start the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix from pole position, but his teammate, Bruno Senna, was knocked out in Q1.

From here, both Bottas and Massa will be keen on securing some big points, and perhaps even a podium finish if things work in their favor. Either way, Williams is well and truly back in business at the sharp end of Formula 1.

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.