The ALL Florida Online Corvette Club






Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Corvette Top Sites

Go Back   The ALL Florida Online Corvette Club > General Corvette Forums > Competitions and Racing Forum

      Photo Gallery Screen Saver!      

Competitions and Racing Forum Any and all forms of contests. "Kill" stories are OK, but please note that this site does NOT condone illegal activities. So discretion is advised.

Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
Unread 01-30-2015, 02:26 PM   #1
cor123
Member
 
cor123's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Marianna
Posts: 558
Name :
cor123 has disabled reputation
Default At Rolex 24, fiery Corvette Racing boss Doug Fehan sounds-off





At Rolex 24, fiery Corvette Racing boss Doug Fehan sounds-off about Ford GT, IMSA, World Challenge and his take on GT3
Chevrolet happy in Tudor Series, expects much-improved series in 2015, says Corvette Racing program manager


With the 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway -- and the 2015 Tudor United SportsCar Championship season -- underway, we caught up with Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. With decades of motorsports experience to his credit -- and a well-known fiery personality that rarely shies away from bold statements -- Fehan sounded off on a variety of topics, from the state of the Tudor Series to Ford’s return to GT racing to why GT3 cars aren’t the solution for him. Among the highlights (you can read the full interview below them):

-- On the new Ford GT and its return to factory-backed racing (still unconfirmed by Ford, but we know it’s happening, with Chip Ganassi Racing): “First of all, let me be the first to confirm the fact that they’re coming racing [laughs]. They’re comin’, they’re comin’. Not just limited to us, I think every manufacturer is thrilled that [they’ll be] here.”

-- On improving the Tudor Series over its inaugural season in 2014: “Let’s identify the things that we all recognized that need improving over the first year. And then let’s address them in the offseason and begin to implement new processes and procedures as we go forward into the second year. That’ll be the measure for me and I think we’re off to a pretty good start with that; I’m pretty confident.”

--On the much-maligned Balance of Performance between cars in Tudor Series competition, and why he expects less controversy about it this year: “When we’re dealing directly with the [Balance of Performance], the thing that not only concerned us but all the competitors in GT was that [there was] an outward appearance of almost arbitrary changes being made, without any fundamental scientific data to back up those changes. We weren’t aware of what science or data went into those changes, we were just alerted to what the changes were. And I think the sanctioning body learned that that needed to be addressed and improved, and that’s what they’ve done for this year.”




-- On rumors Corvette Racing, among others, could move to Pirelli World Challenge in the near future: “Corvette is capable of running in any number of places in the world, but our main attraction and focus right now is this Le Mans nucleus. That’s really our global stage, and everything we do is focused on that, and that’s why IMSA is such a perfect match for us. It gives us that Le Mans exposure in the United States. At this time, we’ve had very good luck and very positive response by dedicating our Cadillac brand to the World Challenge and Corvette to IMSA. I don’t really think we have any plans in our future to cross the two over.”

-- On why GT3-spec racing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be: “There are essentially no rules. You can build what you want and then they’ll balance [your performance]. Which sounds really good for one, two, three years, but at the end of the day -- and you’re beginning to see this now -- more factories are getting into it and you escalate the cost of that thing to the point where it becomes unaffordable, and then it will collapse. … The European racing model is based on rich guys who team up with pro guys, and the rich guys help supplement the cost. They’re the ones buying these cars. The downside is, there’s huge business selling these cars but I can pretty much guarantee you -- without revealing names -- that if the manufacturers who sell all these GT3 cars could get out of that business right now, they would.”

Autoweek: Give us your take on the Tudor United SportsCar Championship heading into its second year, especially after the inaugural season, which wasn’t always smooth sailing.

Doug Fehan: Last year was an interesting year from a couple perspectives. It was the first year of the new Tudor series, and that certainly by any measure wasn’t without its challenges, OK? Not only for Corvette Racing, but for all the competitors and, quite frankly, for the series itself.



AW: Everyone expected it to be that way for at least a while at the beginning. All things considered, it was never going to be easy …

DF: I mean, that’s a monumental task to try, and just from a business perspective, meld two businesses, let alone from a competitive perspective to try and integrate a common set of rules that is going to yield great racing. LMP2 cars and Daytona Prototype cars, all the things that were going on, it was an almost insurmountable task. If the “all-knowing” Doug Fehan had been running the show, I wouldn’t have gotten everything right, either.

On a personal basis, for us it was a learning year. Learning the people, what the business practices were going to be, and then going forward in the off-season -- which to me was going to be the real measure -- let’s identify the things that we all recognized that need improving over the first year. And then let’s address them in the offseason and begin to implement new processes and procedures as we go forward into the second year. That’ll be the measure for me, and I think we’re off to a pretty good start with that; I’m pretty confident.






AW: Why?

DF: We had a wonderful meeting this week on new Balance of Performance measures that have been put in place, an actual data-driven process that is as detailed of a program as I’ve ever seen. I left very confident that we’re headed in the right direction. We’ve got some new personnel in place overseeing the series that I think have a huge interest in listening to the competitors and taking the competitors’ perspective into account as we make changes. And I think the want and willingness to improve [the product] has been clearly demonstrated in this offseason, as I hoped it would.



AW: And for Corvette Racing specifically in terms of competition?

DF: We get back to our own vehicle, the new C7.R. It was a brand-new car last year, and we have a whole book that we have to write on that car. We learned a lot last year that translated into four consecutive victories [at one point in the year]. We spent the offseason -- which is now relatively short because of Daytona being the kickoff, we don’t have that luxury of waiting until Sebring in March -- the team has worked really, really hard to look at things like engine calibration, fuel efficiency, trying to create a little bit more power from what we have. Not necessarily a higher horsepower rating because that’s pretty much locked in by the restrictor, but see what we can do about the power curve. I think we’ve made some progress along there, as well as some aero progress. We know we’re going to have a new tire at Le Mans this year from Michelin. We had an opportunity to look at that, and it looks very promising.


AW: Speaking of Balance of Performance, what’s the biggest difference you anticipate this year?

DF: When we’re dealing directly with the [Balance of Performance], the thing that concerned not only us but all the competitors in GT was that [there was] an outward appearance of almost arbitrary changes being made, without any fundamental scientific data to back up those changes. We weren’t aware of what science or data went into those changes, we were just alerted to what the changes were. And I think the sanctioning body learned that that needed to be addressed and improved, and that’s what they’ve done for this year.

The thing that’s in place this year is going to be extraordinary, I think. As an example, Daytona is essentially an outlier race, there’s no [other track] that equates to Daytona. So Daytona has been taken right out of the BoP loop, from the standpoint of looking at data. We’re looking at the tracks at which we race other than Daytona, and they’re spending a large amount of focus on the performance of the cars last year at the tracks we’re going to.

They’ve categorized the tracks, they’ve categorized the corners; it was a huge undertaking. This is a massive undertaking that they came through with and it’s as good as anything I’ve ever seen. And the idea is to try and have no changes, try to create a balance that’s good and equitable. And you know, they freeze the rules so there’s no major development -- that helps control costs. I mean, there are a lot of little pieces that have to come together. There are a lot of spokes on this wheel that have got to get fixed to the hub to get this wheel to spin, and I think we’re getting closer every day. I’m very, very pleased with what I’ve seen so far.

AW: There continue to be whispers inside the IMSA paddock that you could be considering a move to Pirelli World Challenge, and that it might be a viable alternative. What’s your response to those rumors?

DF: When we look at sports-car racing in the United States, its whole history has been one of continuous flux. We see areas of stability -- there will be areas where it’s stable, areas where it’s unstable, areas where there’s some growth, areas where there’s some pullback. I know there’s some conversation about World Challenge which is a series unto itself, it operates under a different format, they’re essentially sprint races. We [at General Motors] have a brand, Cadillac, that competes over there and has had success there. There’s always rumors and stories about battles going on. From my perspective, personally? I think that level of competition improves the breed. Right now there’s a pretty distinct line between endurance racing and sprint racing. And I think World Challenge answers the sprint race side of it, and IMSA pretty much answers the question for endurance racing.




Is there going to be some fundamental conflict and competition there [between the series]? I think so, but at the end of the day, I’m not sure it doesn’t make both groups better because each group is going to try and improve themselves and raise the bar. And as long as it remains two distinct approaches to the sport, sprint versus endurance, I don’t really see an issue with it.

Now, internally amongst personnel, they might escalate that in their own minds, but from a pure competitor standpoint, it’s two different forms of racing. And I think any time we can draw attention to production-based automobiles to go racing, that’s what really attracts the fans. The fans understand and embrace the product-relevance side of it. And I think we do an amazing job of that here at IMSA and in GT.

I like to think, and obviously I’m very biased, that [the GT class] is the fundamental core [of this whole series]. You actually have a number of manufacturers bringing their best product forward, and the relationship we have with Le Mans that extends this on a global basis. I think those are the things that the sophisticated sports-car fan really embraces and enjoys.

AW: So to be crystal clear, the Corvette program is all about endurance racing, not sprint racing?

DF: I have to say, the sprint format harkens back to the days when there was big manufacturer involvement. Ford versus Chevy in Trans-Am. Those were races about an hour long; they extended it a little bit to put a pit stop into it. Those were pretty much glory days of racing, those hour sprint-race things. But endurance racing existed right alongside of it.

I mean, Corvette is capable of running in any number of places in the world, but our main attraction and focus right now is this Le Mans nucleus. That’s really our global stage, and everything we do is focused on that, and that’s why IMSA is such a perfect match for us. It gives us that Le Mans exposure in the United States. At this time, we’ve had very good luck and very positive response by dedicating our Cadillac brand to the World Challenge and Corvette to IMSA. I don’t really think we have any plans in our future to cross the two over. It’s working wonderfully well for us as it exists right now.

Three years from now? Who’s to say? But right now we’re really satisfied corporately with what we’ve got.


AW: Le Mans means GTE-spec cars, but there are a lot of manufacturers now supporting the GT3-spec, with even more coming down the pipeline, such as Lexus. But GT3 isn’t something Chevy has opted for, despite it appearing to be a good business opportunity to sell customer Corvette race cars. What drives that philosophy?

DF: That’s a sword that cuts both ways, this customer-car business. I’ve been very fortunate over the years to sit on various -- and I currently sit on some -- FIA commissions, and we’re a participating member in what we call the GT-convergence meeting or process where we’re coming up with a common formula for a GT car.

The issue -- and these get down to being very personal to the people who participate -- my take on it is this: The GT3 category right now isn’t accepted at Le Mans, and Le Mans has no interest in accepting GT3, alright? And I think they’re unwavering in that. I don’t think we’re going to see that change in the next few years. [The FIA and Le Mans are] very excited about coming up with a common GT formula.

AW: From your perspective, what is GT3’s downside?

DF: The issue you have with GT3 is that there are essentially no rules. You can build what you want and then they’ll balance [your performance]. Which sounds really good for one, two, three years, but at the end of the day -- and you’re beginning to see this now -- more factories are getting into it and you escalate the cost of that thing to the point where it becomes unaffordable, and then it will collapse.

There’s a number of things that come into play. The European racing model is completely different from the U.S. racing model. The European racing model is based on rich guys who team up with pro guys, and the rich guys help supplement the cost. They’re the ones buying these cars. The downside is, there’s huge business selling these cars but I can pretty much guarantee you -- without revealing names -- that if the manufacturers who sell all these GT3 cars could get out of that business right now, they would. Because for every car you sell, you’ve got a customer who is either going to be really happy, or really unhappy, and you have to have personnel assigned to them.

AW: It’s not as simple as just selling people cars …

DF: You have to have parts trucks, you have to have support, you have to have service. It is a monumental task to do that internally. And at the end of the day -- and I haven’t seen the numbers -- but when you figure the cost of service versus the cost of parts, all the things you have to do, I’m not sure it’s the huge moneymaker that everybody thinks it is.

[Then] look at how streamlined the [Le Mans-style] GT racing is, where you have rules that are stable for years on end, and you have professional drivers in them all the time and you’re running your own factory team. Boy, it becomes a much simpler business proposition than the GT3 thing.

I love the excitement of GT3; I think it’s awesome. You know, it’s kind of like a World Touring Car thing, or rally. But you can get those cars so expensive that even the rich guys in Europe can’t afford them. The GT3 model thus far has worked just fine over in Europe, and that’s not to say I wouldn’t be interested in seeing GT3 cars race here. It’s inevitable, it’s already happening to a large degree and it will continue to happen. It will be interesting to watch that develop, but I can tell you, from the purest -- and I look at Le Mans as the purest form -- the manufacturers love that formula, they support that formula, they get it and it sells cars. It certainly sells cars for us and they’ve learned it can sell cars for them.




AW: In other words, you don’t need to sell GT3 race cars to sell cars, which is a big part of why Corvette races in the first place.

DF: You have to remember, there was a time here in U.S. road racing, recently, when we were racing against ourselves [when we were essentially the only cars in the old GT1 class in 2007 and 2008]. And people thought we were insane. People would ask me, “Doug, how can you sell this to the corporation?” I said, “Because we have a customer base that supports us.”

It’s no different than if I loaded up a sideshow or a display, and dealers signed up for it and we spent a year touring the country, just showing cars at dealerships on Saturdays and drawing crowds. We’re doing the same thing here, we’re just doing it in a more exciting environment. Now, it’s not sustainable for 10 years, but for two years it was. And we had the numbers to support it if you looked at Corvette sales, when you looked at our merchandise sales, that business was on a constant increase and we weren’t racing against anybody.

Our fan base, our Corvette corrals [for owners at the races] were increasing in size. And all they were doing was coming out to see the race cars, listen to them race around and watch them race each other.

That is an amazing testament to what product-relevance can make happen, because that’s what this was. They were coming out to see the car they drove on the street, on the track making noise and how fast could it go. That was not wasted on the other manufacturers, because it didn’t take them long to all come to the party. And you saw Porsche come on board, you saw Ferrari come on board, you saw BMW come on board. They had [all] been on the sidelines and watched what we did -- thinking we were crazy and then figuring out we weren’t. And that’s when they got in the ballgame.

AW: We all know Ford is going to race its new GT supercar, whether it does so later this year or waits until the 2016 Rolex 24. How happy does that make you?

DF: First of all, let me be the first [team rival] to confirm the fact that they’re coming racing [laughs]. They’re comin’, they’re comin’. Not just limited to us, I think every manufacturer is thrilled that [they’ll be] here, and it gets right back to what I just said. They had been sitting on the sidelines watching other companies create halo brands, watching other companies sell vehicles, watching other companies just garner great press.

You know they have a long history at Le Mans, and they had a philosophy that said, “Been there, done that; if we get back in there’s no place for us to go but down because we left setting all kinds of records.” And that’s a justifiable argument; I can pick either side of this and probably win the case. But the issue now becomes that it’s of paramount importance to come forward with your latest and greatest technology.

Everybody at Chevrolet was thrilled [at the news] because all it does is lay a stronger foundation for what we’re doing. It attracts a whole new customer group. It’s going to equal better TV, better attendance; everybody’s going to sell more cars with them coming along. It’s a great addition to what we already have.

Mac Morrison - Mac Morrison is Autoweek’s senior editor for Motorsports covering racing at all levels, from club events to NASCAR, IndyCar, NHRA and Formula One. He also contributes to Autoweek’s coverage and testing of new cars and the automotive industry. Follow him on Twitter @Mac_Morrison.

http://autoweek.com/article/sports-c...n=awdailydrive
cor123 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
CORVETTE RACING AT WATKINS GLEN: One Word…FINALLY! cor123 Competitions and Racing Forum 0 06-25-2014 02:31 PM
CORVETTE RACING AT LE MANS: First Laps at Le Mans for Corvette C7.R cor123 Competitions and Racing Forum 0 06-01-2014 06:48 PM
CORVETTE RACING AT LE MANS: First Steps Toward Eighth Class Victory cor123 Competitions and Racing Forum 0 05-28-2014 01:14 PM
CORVETTE RACING AT LAGUNA SECA: Gearing Up For Monterey Repeat cor123 Competitions and Racing Forum 1 04-29-2014 02:14 PM
Long Beach Results Corvette Racing & Corvette DP's cor123 Competitions and Racing Forum 0 04-13-2014 09:09 PM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:57 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Page generated in 0.05235910 seconds with 11 queries
All material copyrighted by CorvetteFlorida.com and
the respective owners of the material posted.