Corvette GTS Racing

C5-Rs in the hills of Laguna Seca

Walt Thurn Mar 1, 2001 0 Comment(s)

Step By Step

Corvette No. 4 negotiates the famous Corkscrew turn at Laguna Seca Raceway.

Corvette No. 3 blasts down the hill toward its pole position.

Both Corvettes had to work hard to thread their way through the slower GT traffic.

The No. 3 finished second in GTS after hounding the Vipers throughout the race.

Andy Pilgrim sprays co-driver Ron Fellows with champagne on the Victory Circle winner’s podium.

Corvette Racing came to the hills of picturesque Laguna Seca road course near Monterey, California, with high hopes for another C5-R win. After two recent back-to-back wins at Texas Motor Speedway and Road Atlanta, team confidence was high. Both C5-Rs qualified first and second in their GTS category. Corvette No. 3, driven by Fellows/Pilgrim was fastest around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile course with a time of 1:23.483. Corvette No. 4 driven by Collins/Bell, qualified close behind, with a 1:23.947. In spite of stiff competition, both Corvette C5-Rs were starting on the front row.

Race day was foggy with visibility near zero, but the fog finally lifted and the green flag fell at 12:22 p.m. Hopes for the No. 4 Corvette repeating its Atlanta win were quickly dashed at the start. The No. 92 Viper, driven by David Donahue, collided into its rear at Turn 2. Justin Bell returned to the pits for some quick repairs by the Pratt and Miller crew, losing two laps during the incident. Meanwhile, the No. 91 Viper sped by the No. 3 Corvette to take the GTS lead. At the end of the first hour, the No. 3 Corvette maintained its second-in-class position after routine pit stops.

At the race's two-hour mark, both Corvettes pitted for service. Fast Pratt and Miller pit work enabled the No. 3 Corvette to maintain second-in-class position. With 30 minutes remaining, Fellows was at the wheel of the No. 3 Corvette and only 29 seconds behind the lead Viper. Suddenly, a Panoz hit the wall at Turn 7, which caused a full-course yellow. The leading No. 91 Viper was ahead of the incident and the Corvette was behind, which enabled the Viper to gain a full lap advantage over the Corvette.

Only several laps remained in the race when the green flag fell. With the No. 91 Viper comfortably in the lead, the big threat to the No. 3 Corvette was the No. 92 Viper. Fellows could see it in his mirrors, but he drove his heart out to secure a second-in-class finish by a mere 2.6 seconds! The Bell/Collins Corvette finished a respectable fourth in class, thanks to the crew repairing the extensive damage done by the Viper during the opening laps. On the victory podium, Fellows and Pilgrim celebrated their fine Second Place with a champagne shower. While not a victory, the Vipers knew the Corvettes were within striking distance during the whole race.

The team has one more race this year, Las Vegas, and it's filled with risk, excitement, and entertainment. The Corvette team promises you all this and more for their final race of the year. Stay tuned.

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