|ROC 002 Cosworth|
In 1984 Swiss racing driver and engineer Chuck Graemiger produced the first Group C racer with a carbon-fibre composite monocoque. This was the Cheetah G604 and used the Aston Martin V8 engine as a fully stressed engine. Although ahead of its design in construction, the car struggled to be competitive, let down mainly by the weight and lack of power of the engine.
With backing from Gatoil, Graemiger campaigned the Cheetah G604 for two seasons with an ever changing driver line-up that included the likes of Tiff Needell and Ray Mallock. The lack of results prompted Gatoil to pull its support at the end of 1985 and the Cheetah disappeared. In 1988 the car was sold to a wealthy British privateer, who raced the car in the German Supercup with predictable results.
It would take another two years before Graemiger finally announced his next sports racer. Once again sporting a composite chassis, it was designed to the latest Formula 1 inspired Group C regulations. The new car was originally marketed as the Cheetah G606 but even before it was completed, it was renamed SGR001. That name also did not stick as its debut, Graemiger's latest machine was known as the ROC 002.
The final name change was a reference to Graemiger's new partner, Fred Statler and his team ROC (Racing Organisation Course). He was taken by the design and envisaged a production run of customer cars for private teams. To broaden its appeal, the car was designed to take a choice of engines. This compromise meant that the Cosworth DFR fitted on the first example was not mounted fully stressed.
Like the ground-breaking G604, the new car's monocoque was crafted from carbon-fibre with an aluminium honeycomb core. Double wishbones with push-rod actuated dampers were fitted on each corner, as well as ventilated disc brakes. The front mounted radiator was also carried over from Graemiger's earlier Group C designs. The tightly wrapped coupe body featured rear wheel covers to further reduce drag.
It is believed that the car was already testing at Paul Ricard in January of 1991 but it did not appear for the first time until the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. ROC entered the '002' (the 001 was Formula 2 car built by ROC in 1980) for Frenchman Pascal Fabre and Swiss driver Bernard Thuner. Setting the 28th fastest time in qualifying, the ROC was allowed to start fifth on the grid because it was built to the F1 regulations.
The car ran well for the first two hours but was then forced to retired when the gearbox/driveshaft coupling broke. Three months later the ROC reappeared for the Magny Cours round of the World Championship. The same drivers were back behind the wheel and the result was also much the same, with the Cosworth engine expiring early in the race.
Due the changes in the regulations, the interest in sports car racing was in a rapid decline. As a result even the best known prototype manufacturers like Spice struggled to sell cars. So it was not surprising that ROC did not receive any orders for the proposed customer car. The unique 'works' car did not appear again in period. It would turn out to be the last of a line of distinct racing cars designed by Graemiger that started with the Group 6 Cheetahs of the 1970s.
Not receiving any orders left Statler in financial difficulties and eventually he had to sell the unique Group C car to a broker. It lingered there for over a decade until it caught the attention of a Swiss enthusiast. He jumped at the opportunity to acquire a Group C designed in his native country. Since then the unique G606 / SGR001 / ROC 002 has been returned to full running order. It has been a regular participant in historic racing, usually entered as a Cheetah.
Article by Wouter Melissen, last updated on October 06, 2011
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