MOWLEM, CREATION AIM TEAM FINISH 24TH AT LE MANS
LE MANS, France -- Johnny Mowlem and his Creation AIM teammates fought the elements and the rest of the field to finish in the top half in the 2008 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race.
Mowlem, along with co-drivers Stuart Hall, also from England, and Marc Goosens, of Belgium, finished 11th in the LMP1 class for the world's fastest prototype sports cars. The car completed 316 laps around the famed eight-mile road racing circuit that includes public roadways.
Their race however, was not without high drama, as a sizeable accident for Stuart Hall in Thursday's free practice session, left the Creation AIM boys with a huge task to try and get the car back together in time for the Saturday morning warm-up. They did a fantastic job to achieve that, but then as ever with these situations, more gremlins appeared to limit Stuart to only one flying lap in the warm-up.
However, it was a testament to all the team's hard work, that once the race started, the car was handling pretty well and running very reliably, allowing them to climb up into the top 15 overall within the first few hours of the race.
However, first a blow out to the left rear tyre for Stuart, causing him to spin going into the famous Indianapolis corner started a sequence of events that would eventually drop the #14 car down the order to an eventual 24th overall from the 55 starters.
Probably the most sizeable problem was when Mowlem also suffered a left rear blow out at over 300kmh, which pitched him off into the Armco barriers.
"I'd just straightened the car out of the second kink going down towards Indianapolis and then with no warning the left rear tyre exploded, which initially turned me sharp right so that I was heading directly towards the Armco barrier some 50 ft away! I must admit that at that precise moment I thought our race was over, if not worse! But fortunately I somehow, more by luck than talent, got the car straighter before it careered of the track, and so when I actually hit the Armco barrier I was at a much shallower angle and kind of slid down the barrier instead of going over it. The Creation stood up remarkably well to the impact, which was still pretty hard, but the visible damage was relatively light. Unfortunately the biggest problem was the impact de-laminated the carbon floor, so the team had to re-bond it, which lost us a huge amount of time in the pits, putting us completely out of contention for a top finish. Having said that, from then on the car kept going really well and at Le Mans to just make the finish is a great achievement for the whole team, especially after all the dramas, and my hat goes off to them for that."
Mowlem also enjoyed his first time at Le Mans in the Le Mans prototype class:
"Despite not doing more than a handful of laps prior to the race, I have to say that I still felt quite comfortable in the car. I hadn't even had a chance to drive in the new seat that I'd made on the Friday, so my seating position in relation to the pedals was new to me when I did my first stint in the race, but after 2 or 3 laps I got used to it again and then found a rhythm and began to actually enjoy myself. When the rain arrived, it was like driving on ice, so I was very careful, but the rest of the time it was fun!"
Mowlem returns to his regular ride, the Corsa Motorsports Ferrari, and the American Le Mans Series July 12 when the series resumes its season at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. Mowlem is among five drivers tied for eighth place in the GT2 drivers' standings.
"I'm grateful to Steve Pruitt for allowing me to race at Le Mans in this one-off event," Mowlem said. "I was honored to drive for Mike Jankowski and the Creation AIM team, but I have a season-long agreement with Corsa Motorsports and I would not have taken the added opportunity without their enthusiastic support."
Pruitt attended the race as an observer with the idea that his team would compete at Le Mans in 2009.