MOWLEM, RISI LE MANS EFFORT ENDS IN DISAPPOINTMENT
LE MANS, France (June 17, 2007) -- Johnny Mowlem's dream of winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans went up in steam when an accident well after the halfway mark in the race severely damaged the car and eventually forced retirement from the event.
Mowlem and his Risi Competizione teammates Mika Salo and Jaime Melo had a three-lap lead in the GT2 class at the time of the incident and had led the class for 10 hours and 59 minutes.
"The Risi Competizione car was running like a dream" said Mowlem. "Jaime, Mika and myself all double-stinted from the start, and by the time I got out of the car around 8 hours into the race, we had over a one lap lead over the rest of the GT2 field".
This lead was to grow and grow as the race progressed, with the #97 Risi Ferrari 430 being consistently the fastest car in the GT2 field.
Melo was driving at about 6:10 a.m. when he encountered radiator fluid on the track at the Mulsanne corner. The car lost traction, slid off the racing surface and struck a retaining barrier. Melo was able to limp the car back to the pits, where a series of repairs were made. The car did return to the track briefly, but the retirement decision eventually became obvious.
Mowlem, a winner in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year in the same chassis that was competing at Le Mans, said that the team had done a phenomenal preparation job on the car, as before the accident the car felt like a winner.
Mowlem's next race will be the next Le Mans Series round held at the Nurburgring Grand Prix circuit in Germany.