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Kirk Weeks
(317) 843-5444 http://www.chevrolet.com
Contact: Cam Melangton http://media.gm.com/chevy


Corvettes Off to Fast Start at Sebring

SEBRING, Fla. (March 20, 1999) – In only their second start in sports-car racing, Chevrolet’s C5-R Corvettes found themselves on top of the GTS qualifying grid for the start of today’s 47thannual 12 Hours at Sebring. Unfortunately, both of the GM Goodwrench-sponsored C5-R’s encountered a few of the challenges synonymous with endurance racing that hindered stronger finishes.

The GM Goodwrench #3 C5-R Corvette (qualified 1st in GTS), piloted by Ron Fellows, John Paul Jr. and Chris Kneifel, jumped out to an early lead in the GTS class when the green flag dropped. Fellows, whose record qualifying attempt landed his C5-R on the GTS pole, battled to maintain a commanding lead over the GTS field for nearly half of the once-around-the-clock marathon. In Hour 6 Team Corvette’s #3 C5-R experienced a rear end vibration that led to a lengthy pit stop to replace a damaged rear differential and cooling pump. Team Corvette, with repairs behind them, set their sights on the leaders in the final hours in search of a second consecutive podium finish, but eventually ran out of time and captured fourth in class.

The GM Goodwrench #4 C5-R Corvette (qualified 2nd in GTS), driven by Andy Pilgrim, Scott Sharp and John Heinricy, experienced difficulties with brake fluid pressure in the first hour, resulting in an unscheduled pit stop to change the master cylinder and calipers. Pilgrim was put to the test in Hour 3 when he was forced to make on-track repairs to solve an ignition problem. The #4 C5-R’s day ended late in Hour 9 when Heinricy hit the brakes hard in traffic in Turn 17, swapping ends and making contact with the wall. The #4 C5-R finished seventh in the GTS class.

Ron Fellows (#3 GM Goodwrench C5-R) - "This Corvette handled great all day and was a dream to drive. Today was a true team effort, our guys never gave up, and they earned their pay today. The team did a great job getting us ready, and I’m confident that what we learned this week will make this C5-R Corvette even better than it already is."

Andy Pilgrim (#4 GM Goodwrench C5-R) - "Apparently a coil box or a connector went out and caused us to pull off the track. This place is so bumpy, it could’ve just been a case of a connector coming loose. But just to be sure we replaced the coil. It’s a shame we couldn’t catch a break because like I said, this C5-R Corvette is the best car I’ve ever driven at Sebring, and I’ve driven a lot of cars here over the years."

John Heinricy (#4 GM Goodwrench C5-R) – "I’ve raced at Sebring for many years and I know how demanding this racetrack can be on your equipment. Today our C5-R Corvette overcame many obstacles and our team made the adjustments needed to keep us in the game. Unfortunately for us tonight we had to get on the brakes and the rear end spun around on me. It’s a real shame because this Corvette was running great."

Doug Fehan, GM Motorsports Project Manager - "We tested over 2,000 miles here and you just can’t prepare for the little things that plagued our C5-R Corvettes today, especially the #4 C5-R. I can’t remember the last time we had an ignition coil problem like this, it just doesn’t happen."

Gary Claudio, Chevrolet Race Shop Manager - "Our Corvette Racing development program continues to gain momentum as our engineers gather the race-tested data we need to refine and build contending race cars for future GTS competition. We are enthused by our performance thus far, and are eager to build upon our successes."

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