The result not only sees RAM Racing take the championship laurels in its first year of competition, but also receive the coveted invitation to participate in the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The No.52 Ferrari 458 Italia of Ram Racing’s Johnny Mowlem and Matt Griffin today took a lights-to-flag victory in the 3 Hours of Paul Ricard in the South of France, and wrapped up the European Le Mans Series GTE Teams’ and Drivers’ Championship titles in the most dominant of fashions.
The result not only sees the team take the championship laurels in its first year of competition, but also receive the coveted invitation to participate in the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The pair had a faultless race, finishing off a wonderful weekend of racing for the Irish-British pairing, and benefited from a strong strategy from the pit wall which saw them taking rear Michelin tyres only at the car’s first pit stop. By the time Mowlem took over from Griffin, he had built up a lead of over a lap.
It is Ram Racing’s third victory of the season, and Griffin and Mowlem have never finished lower than second place. Their results mean that the European Le Mans Series Trophy for LMGTE Drivers will be presented to them in Paris at the beginning of December, the duo finishing 33 points clear of their nearest rival, Christian Ried of Proton Competition.
Unfortunately the path to success didn’t run quite as smoothly for the sister Ram Racing car today, the No.53 of Gunnar Jeannette and Frankie Montecalvo. Young New Jersey driver Montecalvo put in a very strong performance in his double stint, chipping away at the opposition and climbing to second place in the LMGTE category.
However, a miscommunication led to the No.53 receiving a less-than-full fuel fill at its second pit stop, and an additional splash of fuel was required with just six minutes of the race left to run. This dropped them from third in class down to fifth and fourth in the Drivers’ classification.
Dan Shufflebottom: “To seal the championship with a race win is exactly how we wanted to do it. It might have looked easy at times but it certainly wasn’t, it was very tense watching the screens. Everyone’s worked so hard this year, and they’ve had so much fun while doing it so it’s been a great place to be. I’m really proud of all of them; they’ve done a mega job. We won’t know for a couple of months what we will be doing next year but, as a team, we want to move forward from this, build on our championship and we’ll be working hard to find a way to make it all happen.
“I also feel very much for all the No.53 car guys as it was looking good for them at one point. Frankie drove an amazing double stint, and his lap times were very impressive indeed, but I think the guys have struggled a little bit all weekend. We tried to put them on a similar strategy to the cars they were racing but there was a bit of a miscommunication and they didn’t get enough fuel in the last stop so we had to do a splash and dash which dropped them down to 5th at the end. That’s something we need to look at, work on and make sure that whatever we do next year, this sort of thing doesn’t happen again."
Johnny Mowlem: “That was probably the easiest race win and easiest championship I’ve ever won in terms of finishing it off. But it’s not just about today, although Matt did a phenomenal job today, it’s about the whole year and the job this team has done is just incredible.
"I was a little worried when I first got in the car as I had a slight vibration in the rear but I didn’t say anything as I didn’t want to worry anyone! It made me a bit cautious over the kerbs but other than that the car ran like clockwork.
"I can’t believe this team has won the European Le Mans Series championship in their first year. It doesn’t normally happen like this…I’m just delighted for the team, for Matt and pleased that we got it done.”
Matt Griffin: “Our original plan was to double stint the tyres in my stint but I felt towards the end of the first stint that, while I wasn’t in trouble then, I could be later on so we decided to change just the rears. It’s definitely an improvement on what could have been, changing all four tyres. At the end of the first stint, the car was amazing but it got a bit stressful towards the end of the stint as the car was getting harder to drive. Even then, we were quick enough.
“I’ve got to take my hat off to Dan Shufflebottom for what he’s put together in a short space of time at Ram Racing. Every member of the team is absolutely outstanding and every race they give us an amazing car and strategy.
"We came here needing to finish in order to win the championship, but what they did was give us a car which was unbeatable. What that does is make our job really easy; our dominance today hasn’t come from Johnny and me, although we did our part, it’s come from the team. When you have a team like that it’s so easy for us to do our jobs at the top level. I feel privileged to be part of Ram Racing, and am so happy we’ve won the championship.”
Gunnar Jeannette (speaking on behalf of both he and Montecalvo): “It’s so, so disappointing for everyone on the No.53 car as we were looking strong for another podium finish. Frankie drove such a great stint, probably one of the best I’ve seen him drive, but it all started to unravel a bit towards the end.
Let’s concentrate instead on wishing Ram Racing many congratulations for its championship title – it’s been such an entertaining year racing with all these guys and Frankie and I have travelled to and raced at five new tracks, getting onto the podium in three of the five rounds. That’s what we have to concentrate on.”