Ram Racing takes it's first 24-hour race finish.
The 2014 edition of the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai was most definitely a race of two halves for the Ram Racing team and its #30 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3. After leading at the end of the first 12 hours, unfortunately the second turn around the clock proved to be full of challenges for the British GT team and it finished the year’s first major endurance race in 17th place overall and 11th in the A6 Pro class.
Finding themselves in the lead of the 75+ strong field at the half way mark, the Dan-Shufflebottom led team and its driver line up of Cheerag Arya, Matt Griffin, Jan Magnussen and Johnny Mowlem had every reason to be positive about the result. The car was running flawlessly and the drivers were each performing admirably, but endurance races have a habit of biting back at any given moment.
The European Le Mans Series GTE champions suffered a major set-back in its bid for success just 40 minutes into the second half of the race when Johnny Mowlem fell victim to a racing incident involving two other cars. The subsequent contact damaged the left front radiator of the Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 as well as associated front bodywork, bracketing and framework and – despite slick and efficient repair work carried out at high speed by the Ram Racing crew – substantial time was lost.
Dan Shufflebottom summed up the events of the last 24 hours: “It’s been a real roller-coaster of emotions, from the highs of running so strongly and leading a 24-hour event for the first time, to the lows of losing so much time in the pits for repairs. One thing didn't change though and that’s the fighting spirit of every single member of Ram Racing who faced every challenge thrown in our path with the most amazing spirit. I couldn’t be more proud of all the guys on the team.
“Our drivers have all played their part to the full – from Cheerag who ran his fastest laps of the whole weekend through the pressure of his stint, to our guest driver Jan Magnussen who has been a real pleasure to work with. As much as he’s apparently loved being among our British humour and atmosphere, we’ve also really enjoyed having him with us and hope we might be able to do it again some time with a better result for him to take away.”
The Danish ALMS GT Champion brought the Ferrari across the finish line at 2pm this afternoon to the cheers of the team and said of the weekend: “This race is physically a bit tougher than Le Mans because there are no long straights where you can relax. It’s such a shame we had the contact which put us so far behind because we had a really great car and had a shot at least of a podium if not the win. These things have happened to me before, and almost everyone I know; it’s the name of the game. The crew never gave up, and the drivers pushed to the end to see where we got to. We’re a race team and that’s what we are here to do. The car was just the same after it was fixed, and it was a big fix – the guys did a fantastic job putting the car back together as fast as possible. “
After competing in a number of 24-hour races now, Matt Griffin appreciated how much of an achievement it was for Ram Racing to get to the finish of its first endurance event: “Twenty-four hour races are tough anyway but I think Dubai is one of the toughest and more complicated than, say, Le Mans. Ram gave us a fantastic car and we were able to get it up in the lead and we were really competitive all week. When it comes to the spirit of 24-hour racing, I think we encapsulated that when we had our issues. The guys never gave up, knuckled down and did an amazing job to fix the car which drove as good afterwards as it did before. That’s down to the team and their preparation and shows how good they are. It’s not the result we wanted but I think we can take a lot of pluses away from this weekend. The team are experienced anyway, but it shows that not only can they handle a 24-hour race but I think that, after seeing them in action this weekend, they are the best in the business.”
Johnny Mowlem took the start of the race, and used his superior experience to handle the exceptionally busy period on track. However, he admits that his memories of the weekend will be tainted by the incident which caused the set-back experienced by the team. “The Ram Racing team showed once again why they are one of the best sportscar teams out there. You really see what people are made of when they are up against adversity and, unfortunately, my contact with the Lamborghini while trying to lap him caused some of that adversity. The team rose to meet it brilliantly. As I said before I’m disappointed but at the same time was very proud of the guys to see how hard they worked. They did a superb job, just as Matt, Jan and Cheerag did as well driving. I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been my finest weekend and I’m very disappointed, but I don’t make a habit of this – and hopefully won’t start in the future.”
A further announcement will be made about the team’s plans for the 2014 season within the next few weeks.