MOWLEM SUFFERS BAD LUCK IN ATLANTA. ATLANTA, Ga. (Oct. 6, 2007) -- Johnny Mowlem had a short workday at the Petit Le Mans sports car race at Road Atlanta. Mowlem, driving for the Risi Competizione Ferrari team in the GT2 class of the American...
MOWLEM SUFFERS BAD LUCK IN ATLANTA.
ATLANTA, Ga. (Oct. 6, 2007) -- Johnny Mowlem had a short workday at the Petit Le Mans sports car race at Road Atlanta.
Mowlem, driving for the Risi Competizione Ferrari team in the GT2 class of the American Le Mans Series, suffered a wrist injury during the morning warm-up and was unable to participate in the race.
"It was actually my first lap out and I wasn't even flat through turn 12," Mowlem said. "Just towards the exit the whole car just slid suddenly over the exit curb and onto the grass and from that point on I fought the steering and brakes just trying to avoid the kind of accident that normally happens at this corner, which normally totally destroys the car."
Turn 12 is normally taken flat out with cornering speeds of around 250kmh.
"I knew something untoward had happened because I wasn't even pushing at that point." Mowlem said. "I kept the car off the wall for a long way down the pit straight and eventually came to a stop just before turn 1. Unfortunately I was still fighting the steering to try and keep the car off the concrete wall, when the right front spun round into the wall."
Initial fears were that Mowlem may have broken his wrist, but after being taken to a nearby hospital for X-rays, it was confirmed that it was only a severe sprain due to a dislocation.
Seconds before the accident, IMSA officials were already calling for a black flag for oil being lost from a broken oil union on the Andretti Green #26 LMP2 Accura.
"Fluid had been reported as leaking from the #26 car, and no sooner had I called for a black flag for them at the start line just after Turn 12, than I looked up and saw the Risi Ferrari spinning down the pit straight. It all happened in a matter of seconds. It's very unfortunate that this led to a car being damaged." said Charlie Cook, IMSA's Chief Scrutineer and Technical Director.
The team did a sterling job to get the car fixed in less than 2 hours in order to take up their pole position on the grid, but unfortunately Mowlem's injuries were not so speedily fixable, and he would have to sit out the race.
Once the race started, Mowlem's co-drivers, Jaime Melo and Mika Salo, led the class until an electrical problem caused the brake lights to stop working, which given the rules in the ALMS meant that the team had to pit an otherwise healthy car several times while they resolved the problem. This seemingly innocuous problem eventually cost them 24 laps to the GT2 leaders and any chance of what looked like a comfortable victory.
"The Risi team was able to make repairs on the car," Mowlem said. "I just wish they could have worked on my wrist! I felt terrible about leaving Jaime and Mika to drive on their own, especially as it was so hot on race day, so to help as much as I could I spent most of the race perched on a golf cart at Turn 3, spotting for them with the prototypes, as traffic is always a huge issue at this race"
Mowlem will return to the United States for the Oct. 20 ALMS race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California. He'll drive a Zytek prototype car in that race. He drove the factory LMP1 Zytek car in the same race a year ago and had the overall lead before having to pit for a penalty caused when his team mate Stefan Johansson was deemed as pitting when the pits were closed.