The ex-Ron Fellows/John OConnell, ALMS GTS/GT1 Championship-winning 2001 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R ALMS Racing Sports Car Chassis no. 005 Engine no. 1407
When Ron Fellows and John OConnell took the class victory at Laguna Seca at the end of the 2004 season in their Compuware Corvette C5-R, seconds ahead of teammates Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta in the other works Vette, the win closed out the Corvette C5 era with a notable 35th victory in 55 races. Indeed, Chevrolets successful endurance sports car racing programme had seen the Corvette win every single American Le Mans Series event in 2004 as well as its class at the Le Mans 24 Hours. In recent years the growth in popularity of international sports-prototype and GT car racing has seen a number of major manufacturers embrace the concept as a means of showcasing their products before a worldwide audience. In Chevrolets case, its quest to transform the Corvette from boulevard cruiser to competitive race-car began back in the late 1990s when GM Motorsports race-team manager Doug Fehan recruited established road-racing specialists Pratt & Miller and Riley & Scott to assist with development. Due to their close proximity to GMs headquarters, Pratt & Miller was selected to do most of the design, fabrication and development work. But with Pratt & Miller able to run only one car, 1996 World Sports Car Championship winners Riley & Scott were hired to field a second car for the team. The racing Corvette was based on the C5 road car but had a longer wheelbase, wider track, a re-engineered 6.0-litre V8 engine and carbon-fibre composite bodywork. Working closely with GM Motorsports engineers, Pratt & Miller wind-tunnel tested a 40% scale model of the production Corvette to develop the latter, which had to be capable of keeping the car on the ground at 200mph. Pratt & Miller were able to call on Ken Brown, who had worked on the production Corvettes chassis and suspension, to develop the racers suspension components and chassis layout, while engine development was handled by GM Motorsports engine department. Using the stock LS1 block as a starting point, power was raised to nearly double that of the production engine at around 600bhp in 6.0-litre form. Intended to compete in FIA GT sprint and endurance races against the Porsche 911, BMW 3-Series and Dodge Viper GTS-R, Chevrolets new C5-R racer was premiered at the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas in November 1998. Canadian Trans-Am racer Ron Fellows was recruited as lead driver along with veteran road racers Chris Kneifel and John Paul Jr, while the driver line-up for Riley & Scotts second team comprised Scott Sharp, Andy Pilgrim and GM engineer/racer John Heinricy. The Corvette Racing team was ready in time for the inaugural American Le Mans Series (ALMS) of 1999 but had to give best to the rival Chrysler Viper Team Oreca for the first two seasons. In 2001 it all came good for Corvette Racing, whose remarkable season produced eight victories in ten races, including an overall win in the Daytona 24 Hours and a 1, 2 finish in the GTS class at Le Mans. In 2002 the C5-R repeated its 1, 2 class victory at Le Mans and also dominated the GTS category in the American Le Mans Series. Throughout the season Corvette Racing faced stiff competition from the new Prodrive-entered Ferrari 550, which proved faster but ultimately less durable. Continual development saw a new rear transaxle unit replace the original separate gearbox and differential. In 2003, Corvette Racings distinctive yellow livery was dropped in favour of a special red, white and blue colour scheme commemorating the Vettes 50th anniversary. At the season-opening Sebring 12 Hours race, the C5-Rs remained in commanding form, finishing 1st in class and 8th overall. However, at Le Mans the Prodrive Ferraris spoiled the party and hopes of a third consecutive victory in the GTS class. Corvette Racing came back in 2004 and won their class again at Le Mans with the C5-R. The Prodrive Ferrari had led for more than half the race before being delayed by mechanical problems, while the Corvettes went on to finish 1, 2. Although the works team ran the new Corvette C6-R from the start of the 2005 season, the C5-R was far from finished. The newly formed Corvette Europe team won FIA GT races at Imola and Zhuhai and secured a number of other podium finishes, while in the ALMS the Pacific Coast Racing team achieved podiums behind the factory C6-R. Run by Le Mans regular Luc Alphand, the C5-R returned to Le Mans in 2006 for the first time as a non-factory entry, finishing 3rd in the GT1 class behind the C6-R and Prodrive Aston Martin. Chevrolets commitment to the Corvette race programme has paid handsome dividends, the C5/C6-R winning the ALMS GTS/GT1 championship every year from 2001 to 2006 inclusive. The Corvette C5-R offered here - chassis number 005 - has played a central role in this success, being the championship-winning car driven by Fellows/OConnell to seven wins out of ten ALMS GTS/GT1 races contested including the Sebring 12 Hours - between May 2002 and June 2003. The car was sold to the current owners in Belgium at the end of 2005, and in 2006 contested the FFSA and Belcar series in Europe scoring a number of podium finishes and winning the Zolder 24 Hours outright (full results sheet available). Its most recent competitive outing was on 22nd October 2006 at the FFSA round at Magny Cours, where it finished 3rd and 2nd in the two races, driven by regular pilot (and former GT World Champion) Christophe Bouchut teamed with Roland Berville. Pratt & Miller still provide parts and technical assistance for the C5-R, which - demonstrably - remains competitive in the right hands. Finished in its original yellow livery, 005 has the 7.0-litre engine, six-speed Hewland transaxle and AP carbon brakes. The car is presented in excellent race-ready condition and remains eligible for Le Mans, ALMS, FIA GT and the French FFSA series, Europes foremost national championship. It wants only for a new owner to resume its winning ways.