1996-1997 Courage C41

Text  copyright Michael J. Fuller
Images copyright Michael J. Fuller and Paolo Catone
Courage C41, Daytona test 1997Yves Courage started building sports cars back in the early 1980s out of his race shop located in Le Mans, France.  Courage concentrated on one off runs at Le Mans utilizing his Porsche powered home built prototypes until the late 1980s when the team entered the Sports Car World Championship.  The team primarily concentrated on running in Europe though they did make an appearance with a Porsche 962 powered Cougar C28 Group C car at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1992 (Yves Courage would be forced to cease in naming his chassis' "Cougars" after after a run-in with Ford Motor Company over naming rights using that noun, from that point Courage built chassis would revert to simply being called "Courages").

Then in 1994 Courage decided to make a foray into the up and coming IMSA sanctioned World Sports Car series by building the Courage C41.  According to the C41's designer, Paolo Catone, "The idea of the car was to have a common basis for the '94 IMSA regulations and Le Mans 24h, a flat bottomed car with small, detail differences."

The C41 was built up around a high sided carbon fiber monocoque which had a rear metallic shear plate that allowed the installation of a variety of different engines.  The carbon tub in itself was a shift designating the C41 as a second generation WSC.  It was also was a bold step for a customer race car considering the inherent costs.  But it provided for a very stiff central core and the utilization of a large variety of potential customer engines of varying abilities to handle chassis loads.

Cooling was more than adequate with air drawn into the car around the monocoque, via ducts located in both left and right hand side pods, though a portion of the cooling air also came in from the exhaust of the front diffuser.  The entire package was designed for flexibility, and throughout its career (as C50, C51, C52, etc.) from normally aspirated V8s, turbo V8s (Nissan 3.0 and 3.5 L turbos), and turbo flat-sixes were accommodated without issue. 

Courage C41, Sardou wind tunnel An initial promotional "maquette" was produced by Courage designer Marcel Hubert, but it never made it past the concept stage.  Hubert's concept model featured an elegant long tail though never saw the inside of a wind tunnel.  

With Marcel Hubert opting for retirement, Paolo Catone started design work on the C41 in early 1994 with the first wind tunnel test in April of that year.  The Courage C41 was designed utilizing the Sardou rolling road wind tunnel and a 30% scale model (left).  According to Patone, "(the) budget was not very high, we only spent 1 or 2 short session for every major development.  We used the wind tunnel more extensively for the following car (C60)."

Design completion occurred in July of 1994 and the first car was completed (Chevrolet powered) in October with the first shake down (with Henri Pescarolo at the wheel) on the 6th of that month.  

The accompanying images aren't necessarily a full picture of the C41's design and development but they are unique as they cover portions of a two year period during which the C41 raced in the IMSA WSC series.
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Courage C41 Specifications
Designer: Paolo Catone
Layout: Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
Monocoque: Carbon fiber and aluminum honeycomb monocoque
Engine: Comptech prepared, 16 valve, Chevrolet V8
Displacement: 5000 cc
Horsepower: 560 hp (Le Mans 1995)
Gearbox: 5-speed Intermotion SDC, magnesium case and bellhousing/oiltank
Steering: NA
Suspension: Front:  Fabricated steel upper and lower double wishbones, pushrod operated coilspring/dampner units (Koni)
Rear:  
Fabricated steel upper and lower double wishbones, pushrod operated coilspring/dampner units (Koni)
Brakes: Brembo
Wheels (f/r): BBS
Front:  17 in. x 13 in. 
Rear:  17 in. x 14 in.
Tires (f/r): NA
Length: 4635 mm
Width: 2000 mm
Height: 1020 mm
Wheelbase: 2812 mm
Track Front:1628 mm
Track Rear:1560 mm
Weight: 851 kgs (Le Mans Tech 1995)
Tank capacity: 70-80 L
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ęCopyright 2013, Michael J. Fuller