MOWLEM: AT FIRST GLANCE, PR1 MATHIASEN CAR A GOOD ONE LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 19, 2010) -- Johnny Mowlem and his PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports teammates got a glance at how good the team's future can be during the American Le Mans Series portion...
MOWLEM: AT FIRST GLANCE, PR1 MATHIASEN CAR A GOOD ONE
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 19, 2010) -- Johnny Mowlem and his PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports teammates got a glance at how good the team's future can be during the American Le Mans Series portion of the Long Beach Grand Prix.
Unfortunately, a pair of glancing blows made the difference.
The car team car, an Oreca-Chevrolet LMP Challenge entrant, was second fastest in class during practice with Mowlem at one point heading the lap times before being pipped in the last minute of the session. Given that the team only received the car two weeks ago, this flying start appeared to be heading toward a strong starting position in qualifying. But it was not to be, as Mowlem glanced off the apex wall at turn 7 in qualifying, damaging a wheel and the left hand side of the splitter, although there was no suspension damage.
"I made a small mistake in qualifying that unfortunately had a big consequence" Mowlem said. "I probably missed the line by half an inch. But on a street course, that's all it takes. It really had an impact on our starting position. We were definitely in good shape to fight for pole position."
Mowlem's minor contact with one of Long Beach's unforgiving walls was subsequently found to have caused no suspension damage. "In hindsight perhaps I could have gone back out and still set a decent time as the left front tire remained inflated," said Mowlem, "but it was a risk because at the time we weren't certain if there was perhaps some damage that we couldn't see."
Then, in the race, co-driver Tom Papadopoulos hit the same section of wall with another glancing blow, unfortunately this time a little bit harder, sending him into the tires on the outside of the corner and doing just enough damage to the car to force retirement from the race after three laps.
Mowlem and Papadopoulos will drive the PR1 Mathiasen car again in the upcoming six-hour race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
"I've had some great runs at Laguna Seca and I'm going to have another one in the next race," Mowlem said. "I really think I owe it to (team principle) Bobby Oergel to give his car a great race."