Bowtie Bullet Points: Chevy Notes for Lime Rock

Jul 03 2004 admin News Comments Off on Bowtie Bullet Points: Chevy Notes for Lime Rock

Gavin and Fellows fastest in GTS class on Friday

LIME ROCK, Conn. – The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette C5-R will make its competition debut at the historic Lime Rock Park racing circuit this weekend. The team travels to northwest Connecticut after an impressive start to the 2004 season: In three races this season, the Corvette has claimed three GTS victories: the 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Le Mans and the ALMS Round 2 at Mid-Ohio last weekend.

Fellows Returns to One of His Favorites

Ron Fellows, driver of the #3 Compuware Corvette C5-R, will be making a debut of sorts in the 7.0-liter Chevrolet, although he’s no stranger to the park.

“My first trip to Lime Rock was in the summer of 1992, competing in the Trans Am Series, in my first full season driving for Tom Gloy,” said Fellows. “Having not raced there before, I was able to receive some driving tips from Bruce MacInnes – instructor extraordinaire! I don’t recall who gave me the advice to call him, but it must have helped as we were able to get our first win for the Gloy team!”

While Fellows will draw from years of experience, the team will have spent countless hours simulating the track in the computer screen. The team’s lead chassis engineer, Steve Wesoloski, has worked hard to ensure that the C5-R is out in front, right out of the box.

“We have a very experienced engineering staff and several of the people in our group have been to Lime Rock with other race series – particularly Trans Am,” said Wesoloski. “That first-hand knowledge, along with a detailed topographical map of the race circuit including corner radii and straightaway lengths, allows us to set up our race lap simulation.  We’ve addressed our needs for Lime Rock, including gearing based on corner and straightaway-predicted speeds.  Also, the experience of knowing what the track surface is like allows us to start with a setup on the car that will be as close as possible for maximizing grip.”

Fellows can hope that his 2004 trip to Lime Rock goes smoothly-at least, more smoothly than his final two races at the park.

“Lime Rock was also the sight for one of my more exciting accidents,” said Fellows. “It was another Trans Am race, in 1995, and my car – after contact with another competitor – had a left front suspension failure just as I as turning in for the downhill turn. The car went straight off into the barrier!”

“The last time I raced at Lime Rock was in 1996 with the Sunoco Camaro and we led the race until a driveline failure ended our day with about 10 laps to go,” said Fellows. “I’m excited to come back to Lime Rock as I feel like we have some unfinished business here!”

Lime Rock Hosts its First ALMS Event
The American Le Mans Series will be racing for the first time at historic Lime Rock Park, considered to be one of the classic North American road racing venues. The timed event of two hours, 45 minutes will be held on Monday, July 5, a national holiday in the United States. Practice and qualifying will be held on Saturday, July 3; there will be no track activity on Sunday due to local ordinances.

ALMS Turns 50
Monday’s race will be the 50th event to be held for the ALMS since the formation of the series in 1999. Since that time, the Corvette C5-R has recorded 24 ALMS victories; all-time, the factory Chevy has won 28 races in 48 starts (the team’s victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Daytona were not ALMS-sanctioned events).

Matching Records
With their GTS class win at Mid-Ohio, Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell tied Lucas Luhr for second on the ALMS all-time wins list at 18. Corvette’s third-place overall finish at Mid-Ohio tied an ALMS record for the highest finish by a GTS car in a race. The original record was set by a Dodge Viper in 2000 at Adelaide.

Corvettes Fastest In Friday Practice
While Friday’s 90-minute practice session was cut short due to rain, drivers acclimated themselves to the fast track while engineers took notes on how to optimize their setups.

“I was fortunate to have a clear lap with little traffic,” said Oliver Gavin, driver of the #4 Corvette C5-R. “My first reaction to the circuit was that it is very short; as you start getting used to the layout of the track, you’re crossing the start/finish line. I thought the surface of the track was quite bumpy, but it is a very fun track to drive.”

Ron Fellows was able to practice for approximately 30 minutes before handing the #3 Corvette over to Johnny O’Connell. O’Connell’s test time was cut short due to rainfall.

“I got about 25 laps in the car but only two of them were clear, without traffic,” said Fellows. “That is going to be something we’ll think about for qualifying, as it’s quite hard to get out there on a clear track. The C5-R handles very well and our advantage on a track like this will be in corners like Turn 7, where the level of grip allows me to come through there in fifth gear. Getting out of that corner we can build great speed onto the front straight, where we’ll get up to sixth gear. This place is a bit bumpier than I remember, but it will make for quite an entertaining race.”

The Corvette Racing team will qualify on Saturday at 2:35 p.m.

Friday Practice Results – GTS Class
Pos. No. Car Drivers Best Time
1 4 Corvette C5-R Gavin, Beretta 52.674
2 3 Corvette C5-R Fellows, O’Connell 53.527
3 63 Saleen S7R Borcheller, Mowlem 55.673
4 5 Lamborghini Murcielago Brabham, Kox 59.787
5 71 Dodge Viper GTS-R Weickardt, Belloc 1:04.728