Photo: Tony DiZinno

Callaway confirms Keilwitz, Cooper for PWC

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INDIANAPOLIS – Callaway Competition USA announced last month it would be racing in Pirelli World Challenge next season, providing a spark to the series’ headlining GT class with a pair of Corvette C7 GT3-Rs.

Further program details have been revealed about Callaway’s participation today in the series during the PRI Show in Indianapolis.

The full release is below.

Thursday morning at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show, Callaway Competition USA unveiled the Corvette C7 GT3-R, announcing Daniel Keilwitz and Michael Cooper as the two full time drivers for the 2018 factory GT effort in the Pirelli World Challenge.

Team owner Reeves Callaway and Pirelli World Challenge President and CEO Greg Gill opened the press event alongside a matte black carbon Corvette C7 GT3-R, one of two that will be entered as full season factory efforts in the GT class. The GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R will compete in the GT class in both the sprint races, as well as the two driver format SprintX races. Drivers for the SprintX events will be announced at a later date.

“We are proud to have Daniel and Michael on board for our 2018 effort,” said Callaway. “Both drivers have won several championships and will be excellent brand ambassadors for the Corvette C7 GT3-R’s debut year of American Competition. Daniel brings with him a wealth of knowledge about our team and the car, and Michael has years of experience on the tracks we’ll be competing on. Together, with the team we’re assembling, this will be an excellent program to show our future customers what the Corvette C7 GT3-R is capable of.”

While Daniel Keilwitz may be new to competition in the United States, the 28 year old German is no stranger to sports car racing or Callaway Competition. Keilwitz began his career in go karts in 2000, spending four years there before moving up to the German Production Car Championship in 2005. After finishing tenth in the championship, he competed in the ADAC Procar series, finishing second in the 2006 championship. In the three years to follow, he continued his driver development in the Mini Challenge, twice finishing in the top five championship results. This first of three championship titles came in 2010 when he clinched the FIA GT3 European Championship with Callaway Competition. Keilwitz joined the ADAC GT Masters series in 2011, and has risen to become the most successful driver in the series with 19 overall race wins. Together, Keilwitz and Callaway clinched the 2013 championship, and have finished in the top three in the 2014, 2016, and 2017 championship standings. In 2017, Keilwitz earned the ADAC GT Masters team title, with teammate Jules Gounon also on the effort. Although Keilwitz will be new to all the tracks on the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge calendar, his eight years of experience with Callaway Competition and two years behind the wheel of the Corvette C7 GT3-R will prove invaluable to Callaway Competition USA’s North American Debut.

“I’m really looking forward to join Callaway Competition for the Pirelli World Challenge in 2018,” said Keilwitz. “I have done a lot of races for them in Europe and now I’m really happy to join them also in the USA for my ninth year with the team. The car is really amazing and was performing really well in Europe against all the big manufacturers, so I’m sure that it will perform also well in USA. Of course we have to get some experience with the car on the new tracks, but we also bring a lot of experience from Europe to the USA from the past two years racing with this car. We clearly want to show that the Callaway C7 GT3-R is a great performing and winning car. I’m really proud to be part of this team.”

Fresh off winning the 2017 SprintX Championship, American racer Michael Cooper joins the team, bringing with him four championship titles in six years of competition. The 28 year old began his racing career in the 2010 Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge, earning two wins and three podiums in his rookie season. In 2011, he clinched the Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup championship title, and the following year, the Pirelli World Challenge rookie again wheeled his way to the top of a championship, as the 2012 TC champion. In the two years to follow, Cadillac racing twice tested with Cooper, and in 2015, made him a GM Factory driver in their Pirelli World Challenge efforts. Cooper wasted no time proving himself, earning the 2015 GTS championship title with Blackdog Speedshop, and finishing third in the 2016 GT championship with two wins and seven additional podiums representing Cadillac Racing. Cooper returned to the GT class with Cadillac Racing in 2017, finishing second in the driver championship, and earning the inaugural SprintX Championship alongside Jordan Taylor.

“I’m very proud to be joining Callaway Competition USA for their factory effort next year,” said Cooper. “The Corvette C7 GT3-R has already proven itself on track in Europe, and I’m eager to start testing. The team that is being assembled by Callaway is top-notch, and will no doubt put us in contention for the championship. This will be an exciting year for the car’s debut in the Pirelli World Challenge.”

Introduced to competition in 2016, the Corvette C7 GT3-R, designed, manufactured and homologated on behalf of General Motors by Callaway Competition GmbH produced a successful debut and sophomore season, winning the 2017 ADAC GT Masters Series Driver and Team Championships with Jules Gounon and Daniel Keilwitz. Now available for competition in the United States, the Corvette C7 GT3-R will no doubt be a championship contender again in 2018. The season will begin March 9-11 on the streets of Saint Petersburg, Florida. For more information, visit callawaycars.com and world-challenge.com. Inquiries on a customer racing program can contact GT3@Callawaycars.com.

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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