Ron Fellows – A Sebring Fluke
“It’s like the car just stepped sideways.” That is what Ron Fellows remembers of the incident that occurred just as he had retaken the lead at Sebring – writes Gary Horrocks.

“At that point in the race, with fresh tires and in the heat of the day, there is usually no difficulty in breaking loose, but it was almost like I pulled an e-brake turn. Then I found that I had no fourth gear.”

At this point in the race, especially as competitive as the battle in GT1 was, Ron Fellows wasn’t sure that they would be able to rejoin the battle in a timely manner, but as is usual with the Corvette Racing crew, they came through.

“Yeah, I was pretty frustrated. I expected the repair to take an hour or so, especially with the rules now dictating that you cannot swap out the gearbox, but must repair it. I got out of the car and got a drink, then all of a sudden, I was told to get my helmet back on, they had the car ready to go. Instead of losing an hour, we only lost 25 minutes. The guys did an unbelievable job yet again.”

Rob Schirle was an interested observer of the task, and he was also mightily impressed..

Ron Fellows had had no warning at all of a possible problem, in fact he thought of it as “a fluke. I had no warning at all. It just happened. Other than that problem, the car was very good and we were looking forward to battling the rest of the way. While finishing 4th was a disappointment, part of me is glad that we found this problem before Le Mans. The Xtrac unit has been extremely durable for us. They’re always working hard at developing their package, especially making it lighter. While it may not sound like much, especially with our increased weight, it does allow us to place the weight where we want to.”

Much was made of the mandated increased weight for the Corvettes before the race, so Ron, how did it affect the car?

“Considering it was like having a passenger with us in the car, the car was still surprisingly good. It wasn’t as nimble as it has been, but it was still obviously pretty good. We were concerned about how the added weight would affect the car, especially in braking, so we made a conscious effort to minimize the time on the brakes. We didn’t need them, but we were prepared as we had bedded in new pads in case we needed them.

“The fight with the Astons was good fun. They were stronger than I had anticipated. The pace was faster than it was last year.

"I was very surprised at how fast they were in the cooler conditions after the sun went down. We definitely had them covered with our Michelins during the heat of the day, but it did appear that Pirelli has made improvements, especially in the cooler conditions. I hope they come back to play for the season.”

After Sebring, Corvette Racing traveled to Road Atlanta for their usual post Sebring testing. Usually, the team would continue on at Sebring, for Michelin tire testing, but they have found that the surfaces at Road Atlanta are much more representative of what they would experience at Le Mans. “It was a good test for us. We took the cars as they were after the race and continued running them. It was a good test and we had no problems. Le Mans should be a real fight and we’ll be ready.”

GT1 this year will see the two, new, yellow Corvettes taking on two Ferrari 550 Maranellos, five Aston Martins, the Alphand Corvette, the JLOC/Reiter Lamborghini... and old ALMS rival the ACEMCO Saleen...

 

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