By: RICK MATSUMOTO on August 19, 2002
Original Article: TORONTO STAR (CANADA)

Mississauga Native Overcomes Qualifying Setback At Mosport

Ron Fellows put the previous day’s qualifying disappointment behind him before climbing into his car for the Grand Prix of Mosport yesterday at Mosport International Raceway.

When he slipped out through the window of his Corvette C5-R nearly three hours later, the 42-year-old from Mississauga was all smiles.

Fellows and co-driver Johnny O’Connell sailed to their fifth GTS class victory in seven outings this season. Fellows had roared past Saleen driver Terry Borcheller, who had taken the class pole Saturday, by the time the field made its way through the second corner of the 2.5-mile circuit.

Fellows’ frustration came after he failed to nail down what would have been a series record 14th pole.

“That sort of pole record would be kinda nice to have and we’ll eventually get it,” he said. “But that’s just one lap. What counts is winning the race. This is great here at home.”

Borcheller’s team was never a serious threat in the American Le Mans Series race.

“He was gaining a little bit on me, and maybe thinking of somewhere to pass,” Fellows said. “But he’d catch traffic and we were able to pull out a little bit of a gap again. He never got close enough to make a pass.

“We got a real good start and that was the key. He wasn’t as quick early as I thought he would be.”

Fellows handed off to American O’Connell during the first pit stop an hour into the race. An hour later they switched places again and Fellows brought the car across the finish line first in the class and seventh overall.

“Johnny got in the car for us and Franz Konrad (Borcheller’s partner) got in the car for them and Johnny was faster than Franz,” Fellows said. “That was the difference. He was able to put him a lap down.

“We also gained 30 seconds in our (first) pit stop. That was incredible.”

Borcheller and Konrad finished third in the class.

O’Connell said he was determined to make up for their loss two weeks earlier at Trois-Rivières, Que. to the second Corvette team of Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins, which finished second yesterday.

“We had a good stop so we gained some time there, but I was pushing real hard,” O’Connell said. “I still felt bad about not winning at Three Rivers. So I wanted to make a statement.”

Fellows also applauded his team’s decision to use a hard tire compound.

“The guys made a great call,” he said. “It was the way to go. It was the highest track temperature we had seen in the three days. We were slipping and sliding, but you could run hard the whole time.”

It was a day that the Audi Prototype 900 team of Frank Biela and Emmanuele Pirro would just as soon forget.

Just seven minutes into the race, Biela, who had gained the overall pole for the team on Saturday, gave up the lead to the second Audi factory team car driven by Rinaldo Capello.

Their day, and any chance of catching Capello and co-driver Tom Kristensen, ended when Pirro crashed at Turn 8 47 minutes from the end of the race. Pirro, who was running second to Kristensen at the time, lost consciousness. He was awake when transported to hospital, where he was kept for observation.

The third Audi team of Johnny Herbert and Stefan Johanssen finished second overall, followed by the Cadillac Northstar LMP of JJ Lehto of Finland and Max Angelelli of Italy.

Hillsburgh, Ont. native Melanie Paterson and veteran Vancouver driver Ross Bentley finished second in the Prototype 675 class and 16th overall.

Kevin Buckler and Brian Cunningham, both Americans, took the GT class and were 13th overall.