Twelve months ago newly launched British GT team, Ram Racing, took its first tentative steps into the world of international motor sport competition with an entry in the 2013 24 Hours of Dubai. Viewed at the time very much as a forum in which the team, car, drivers and systems could all be put to the test prior to its first full season of competition, it was nevertheless disappointing when it came to a premature end due to accident damage caused by another competitor.
Now, returning to the Emirati event as European Le Mans Series GTE Champions, Ram Racing has proven itself at the highest levels and is approaching the 2014 race with only one aim in mind – to win. The year’s first major motor sport endurance event, the 9th running of the Dunlop 24H Dubai, will begin at 1400h (local, 1000h GMT) on Friday, January 10 and end at the same hour on Saturday, January 11.
Driving the team’s gleaming, silver Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 (No.30) will be an all-star line-up of championship-winning drivers including Ram Racing’s ELMS GTE Driver Champions Johnny Mowlem and Matt Griffin. The English-Irish duo will be joined by Danish American Le Mans Series GT champion Jan Magnussen who not only brings a huge amount of endurance experience to the team from the past decade (including four class victories at Le Mans), but also a year’s worth of Ferrari 458 knowledge gained in the International GT Open series. Re-joining the team for a second consecutive year as part of this successful grouping is Cheerag Arya, a Dubai-based businessman and Ferrari enthusiast.
“This will be my sixth 24H Dubai so I know the event very well now. As 24-hour races go it's a very tough one as there are up to 95 cars with some huge speed differences. It's also tough as the track is very dark and the night is long, around 12 hours of full darkness compared with six hours at Le Mans.”
Johnny Mowlem is another with plentiful experience of the UAE-based race and the Briton recognises that, no matter how well a team or its drivers prepare, an element of luck is also required at endurance events. “The 24H Dubai has turned into a very competitive race with many different manufacturers involved, and we will need some luck in order to start 2014 with a top result.
However, I believe our line-up is a great bonus, with Jan Magnussen joining Cheerag, myself and Matt and he will make an excellent addition to the team. We have known each other since competing in single-seaters, and we both raced on Jackie Stewart's "staircase of talent". In my opinion he is the most naturally talented driver I have ever raced against, so it will be nice to have him in the same car! Three of us are current champions so it should make for a decent line up.”
Although still a relatively new event, the 24 Hours of Dubai has grown considerably in stature over the past few years and the ultra-modern 5.39km Dubai Autodrome track has become a favourite of drivers. It offers a combination of high-speed straights and technical corners which, combined with the size of the entry-list, makes it a challenging prospect for all competitors.
With an entry of around 90 cars and teams and drivers coming from 39 countries, the race will feature renowned sports car brands such as Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus and McLaren as well as touring cars and silhouettes – the latter two categories filling a large part of the grid and adding to the excitement.