Da Doo Ron Ron
In the midst of a hectic off-season schedule, Ron Fellows took some time out while transporting his boys to hockey practice to discuss the end of the season - and what is also the end of the line for the Corvette C5-R.

dailysportscar.comBesides winning the ALMS GTS Drivers Championship for the third consecutive time (second consecutive with team-mate Johnny O’Connell - right), Ron was also voted as the Most Popular Driver by the ALMS. According to Ron, “that was really cool. It was a huge surprise for me and is hugely flattering. It is probably the coolest award I have ever received. And the trophy is huge. I think it is something like 40-50 pounds. No way that was going home on the plane with me. We just left it in the car after the awards banquet. It went back to the shop in the car, inside the trailer.”

Ron is probably one of the most accessible of the big name drivers out there, but it is just a matter of him “being myself. I feel it is my duty to make sure that the fans are taken care of. If they are standing in line for an autograph, I’ll stay there until they all have one. The fans are very important to me and to the series. I think it is really cool to be part of the American Le Mans Series for this long and to see what it has developed into.”

As far as winning the championship this year, Ron knew they were “going to have our hands full after coming away from Sebring with the points lead,” after the retirement of the team car. “We knew that to win this again, we would have to run all season long with the knowledge that we couldn’t mess up. We talked about it and agreed that we would make no low percentage moves. We would take wins if we could get them, and that is how we played it all season long - even Max Papis, when he stepped in. It was a tough situation for Max at Petit, as we went in only having to finish second to take the Championship, but he did a great job in helping us do exactly that. He respected what Johnny and I were doing, even though there were times when it was not easy on us to hold back. Johnny likes to be aggressive but he had to step back from that. It may not have been easy, but in the end, it was worth it.”

dailysportscar.com“Ollie and Olivier are absolutely fast drivers. I’m sure that the hole in the points that they found themselves in after Sebring had some effect on how they raced. They knew what they were up against it and that they had to get every win they could to take the Championship. They were aggressive in every session and in qualifying, they just did a better job than we did. I’m just glad they don’t give points for pole. It was close racing and great racing all season long.”

As far as winning at Laguna, it was fitting that Ron took the last race win for the C5-R and also that elusive first win for Corvette there too. “Selfishly for me, I really feel proud to have been able to take the first and also the last win for the C5-R, especially being the last one of the original drivers for the team. Finally conquering Laguna was important for everyone on the team. In the past, it had been racing luck, but last year we got beat by a faster car. To finally get the win here was really nice.”

As far as the race itself, Ron explained that “the start was critical. When you have cars that are close, speed wise, it is very difficult to pass, especially at Laguna. As the race went on, we knew it would require a mistake or help from traffic to get back into the lead. Unfortunately, at the start, two P-cars got together, forcing us wide. It stayed close for a while, but the #4 car was able to push the gap to nine to ten seconds. It closed up a little after the driver change and we were able to stay in touch. But it is just so difficult to keep up at Laguna. Even a GT car can hold you up for quite a while. In the end, it all came down to that last stop. We kept it close, and then the crew was able to get us out in front right at the end.”

Racing at Laguna is always tough, but racing into the darkness made it even more difficult. “There are so many blind corners and elevation changes at Laguna, that it is difficult enough during the daylight, but it was tough to see at night. Then the rain! Let me tell you, that didn’t help one bit.”

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It may be the off season, but you couldn’t tell it from Ron’s schedule. As this is written, Ron was leaving the colder northern climate to head to Sebring, where testing was about to take place with the C6-R. For 2005, Corvette will be using its new weapon against the cast of full season ALMS characters (which could include a Rahal-run Ferrari 550), but will also face the new challenges from Aston Martin and quite possibly Maserati. One chapter of the book closes and another opens in March…
Gary Horrocks

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