The Dubai 24H may not have produced the result the team wanted, but the experience was invaluable as they move forward to the 2013 European Le Mans Series.
The sand has settled back onto the Dubai Autodrome track following the weekend’s 24-hour race, the freight has been re-packed for the trip back to the UK, and Ram Racing’s drivers and team have had an opportunity to reflect on their first competitive event together as Britain’s newest international GT racing team.
Despite being taken out of the race following contact by a slower car in the 14th hour of racing, Team Principal Dan Shufflebottom, was very happy with how Ram Racing gelled together in Dubai. “It was a bit of a tough week,” he said afterwards, “but we all learnt so much and everything that happened can be viewed positively...with a bit of hindsight!
That might sound a bit strange, given that we had two lots of contact and three time penalties, but we certainly weren’t alone in that respect and it showed everyone how well we were able to cope with everything thrown at us.
Our four drivers – Cheerag Arya, Gunnar Jeannette, Johnny Mowlem and Guy Smith - were brilliant and, despite few laps in the car before the race, they all got up to speed very quickly amid a very competitive and hectic field.
It gives us a lot of confidence as we go into the 2013 ELMS season and beyond.”
Despite some minor technical issues in practice, race week began well for Ram Racing as Johnny Mowlem qualified 11th from the 82 entries for the event which began on Friday, 11th January – the first major endurance event of the year.
The No.30 Ferrari entry was running comfortably within the top 30 cars for the first 12 hours, with all four drivers becoming increasingly comfortable in the car and producing competitive and consistent lap times.
The end result was therefore very disappointing, as summed up by the team’s professional drivers.
Johnny Mowlem (GB): “Despite not finishing the race, it was definitely a really positive result in terms of the Ram Racing lads getting prepared for the upcoming season.
I was seriously impressed with every single team member; they are already as good a team as I have ever driven for, and this is only their first race together!
“I was also very impressed with Guy and Gunnar, as we were all able to run at the race leaders’ pace throughout. Silly incidents and bad luck lost us loads of laps, and eventually took us out, but we didn't have a single technical issue with the Ferrari 458 in the race.
I was especially impressed by Cheerag's lap times and performance, given his lack of time in the car before the race. He's definitely got a lot of natural talent and it will be fun helping him hone that talent at a few selected races as the year progresses."
Gunnar Jeannette (USA): “Just being involved with Ram Racing this weekend was an honour, and for their first race, they put forward a highly impressive performance.
We might not have had the result we wanted but we didn’t go down without a fight. The race was absolutely crazy in both a good and bad way, and there was a huge grid of very impressive and competitive cars.
Over 80 cars with big differences in closing speeds meant that the race was certainly never boring - every lap you probably passed 8-15 cars.
“The Dubai 24H was a race I’d wanted to do for a while. I learnt a lot but some of the rules were very different to what we’re used to in Grand Am, the ALMS or even the ACO – especially the Code 60 caution periods which caught out lots of people.
“Overall it was a very good experience and I was happy to join Ram Racing here. I had a lot of fun driving with Johnny, Guy and Cheerag who dropped several seconds each lap he ran, despite not having a ton of laps in the car before the race.”
Guy Smith (GB): “I loved my GT experience in Dubai, and every time I got in I went quicker, doing my best time at night. Once I forgot about prototypes, and put my GT head on, I really started to get into it and really enjoyed it.
It also gave me another perspective for when I'm racing against the GT guys in the ALMS. Although we didn't finish, I think the whole team did an amazing job and it’s hard to believe it was Ram Racing’s first race together as they really were first class.
“The accident which brought about our retirement was a bit bizarre and really unfortunate. I basically came out of the final corner as everybody had started slowing for a Code 60 to find about eight slower cars braking on the exit.
I hit the brakes and swerved to avoid them, but unfortunately the guy behind me [No.144 GC Automobiles Silhouette] was not so quick to react and hit my left rear wheel. It was like traffic backing up on a motorway, only much faster!"