Series off-season spotlight - Johnny Mowlem

MOWLEM: CORSA SHAPING MOTORSPORTS' FUTURE Since 1999, Johnny Mowlem has been competing in the American Le Mans Series. As one of the most experienced drivers on the grid, Mowlem talks about his dual 2008 season, first behind the wheel of a GT2...

MOWLEM: CORSA SHAPING MOTORSPORTS' FUTURE

Since 1999, Johnny Mowlem has been competing in the American Le Mans Series. As one of the most experienced drivers on the grid, Mowlem talks about his dual 2008 season, first behind the wheel of a GT2 sports car and later transitioning into a LMP1 Zytek prototype.

Following an optimal performance in a Ferrari F430 GT at St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Salt Lake City, Mowlem spent the second half of the season planning and finally pushing the pedal down on the new Zytek 07S at Road Atlanta and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

What was that transition like? "For me the transition between a GT and an LMP car wasn't that difficult as I've gotten pretty used to it over the years. In 2006, there was a moment when I finished second overall at Petit Le Mans in an LMP1 and was racing a GT3 Aston Martin in the World Challenge all in the same weekend. So I was literally getting out of a high downforce super car that was doing one-minute and 10-second laps and found myself jumping into a car with no downforce that was 30 to 40 seconds a lap slower. ... I think with any new car in any class, it always takes awhile for the drivers and team to gel with the package."

How do you compare the preparation and training between the two models? "In terms of preparation and training, the only thing I did that was different was work out harder on my neck muscles in the gym, as I remembered struggling with that in 2006."

Feeling quite comfortable and at ease in his transition, Mowlem shares the story behind what is soon-to-be a breakthrough in motorsports history for Corsa and the Series with the introduction of the first hybrid vehicle.

How do you feel being the first driver to introduce a hybrid vehicle to the Series? "I think when you look around at the world we're living in, you can see that we are getting closer and closer to the need to find an alternative source of energy, and notice it as being on the top of most governmental and corporate wish lists. I feel that hybrid and KERS technology is probably just one step on the road toward totally electric-powered vehicles. Being at the forefront of introducing this technology into what is a real high-pressure and evolutionary environment like the American Le Mans Series, it is a very proud moment for me. Although I obviously want to be competitive and win races, I also recognize that there is a bigger picture for the Corsa Motorsports team and that we are involved in something that down the line could be revolutionary for motorsports in general."

As a symbol of the future, how do you measure the impact hybrids could have in just a year or two years time for consumers? "Developing the technology in an environment where everything has to be smaller and lighter and more energy efficient can only have a hugely positive influence on how future hybrid cars are built and manufactured in the future, and therefore they will be significantly more "green" friendly in the future. ... If little Joe's dad can just point out to his son that the No. 48 silver car has that "green friendly" technology on board and that could lead to alternative fuel sources in the future, just being made aware of that at an early age can only be a positive for the future of our planet.

As the countdown begins for Corsa to debut its hybrid technology at the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida in March, Mowlem speaks out about the person who has led the team to trust in the Zytek's capabilities.

"Steve Pruitt (team owner) at Corsa Motorsports has taken on a huge personal commitment to bring this technology to the American Le Mans Series. He has been working tirelessly behind the scenes with Zytek to make this all happen, and I for one think he deserves huge congratulations for achieving it. ...For Steve it was all about doing the right thing and leading by example. If you go to his home or his office, everything is done with the mindset of being energy efficient. I'm just proud that I have been able to help him along the way and was chosen to be a part of such a great project."

With just three months to get ready, Mowlem closes by revealing his goals for the newest competitor of green racing.

"As far as 2009 goes, I think it's important that we understand where the technology is. ... The technology that we're adopting is not easy and is very cutting-edge, so we don't really know yet what pit falls await us. However, if we just work together as a team and stick together through the rough and the good, I have no doubt that will we get to where we want to be, which is to win races."

-credit: alms

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