Mowlem's Musings

AUTOSPORT-backed sportscar star Johnny Mowlem has developed an unwanted reputation as a bridesmaid recently, after finishing second in several major sportscar races. Thankfully, he managed to shake off that tag convincingly last weekend, with victory in the American Le Mans Series race at Road America

Mowlem's Musings

GT runner up at Petit Le Mans at the end of last year, second again at the Daytona 24 hours this year (all be it second overall), and GT runner up again at the Sebring 12 hours. Spot the pattern emerging?! That's why our win in the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Porsche at last weekends Road America round of the American Le Mans Series was so special.

I've gone on record a few times as saying I was fed up with finishing second, so to get this win now, especially on a circuit as challenging as Road America, was a real boost for all of us. This is my third season with Mike Petersen and Dale White, and they and the whole team have worked so hard to achieve this. Although we have come tantalisingly close a number of times in the past, this was the teams first ALMS win, (they did win this years Le Mans 24 Hrs in association with Alex Job Racing), and nobody deserves it or earned it more. I was genuinely more pleased for the two of them and the whole crew than I was for myself. It was great to see their faces when we were up on the podium!

Rather ironically, we had our worst start to a race weekend I think we've ever had. On Friday we were miles off the pace. On Saturday we were much better after we radically changed our entire set-up, including my getting back Bob Wollek's choice of differential from Sebring 2001!

For reasons I won't bore you with, I ended up getting only one flying lap in qualifying, which kind of tied my hands a bit, as this track appears to need at least two or three laps to get the tyres to their optimum temperature. So we were relieved to still make the top five, especially as I knew we had a much better race car than we had shown in qualifying.

And so it turned out. This time my team-mate Craig Stanton took the start, and he did a superb job to initially keep a whole gaggle of cars behind him and then actually pull away from them. The Risi Ferrari fell back into his clutches with handling issues, and this coupled to the early off and broken suspension of the #24 Alex Job Racing Porsche, meant that when he pitted at the first full course yellow just over an hour in, we were up to second.

There was a bit of confusion during this first sequence of pit stops, as a couple of the front running cars like Orbit #43 and PK Sport #60 had pitted just before they closed the pits and then been released from the pits while we were under yellows, so we weren't sure initially what position we had rejoined in. All I knew at the restart was that I had both of them directly in front of me, along with the leading #23 AJR car, with Maassen now at the wheel. So I really went for it from the green and managed to pass the #60 car and began to catch the Orbit car. At this point I was told over the radio that I was actually now a lap up on the PK Sport car and virtually a lap up on Marc Lieb in the Orbit Porsche. So I was really only racing Sascha in the AJR car, who was just a couple of seconds in front. I'd just started to try and chase him down, whilst we were both still in traffic and then suddenly he slowed and I was through into the lead! I later found out that he'd got stuck in 5th gear, so fair play to him for making it to the finish!

Those three or four laps were the most fun I would have, as from that moment on I was told to slow down, stay off the kerbs and look after the car, which made for a very boring afternoon. In fact the only two things that happened were that I picked up a rather worrying vibration on my last two sets of tyres, and I got accused of talking too much on the radio, which was the only thing I could think of doing to keep myself revved up and avoid falling asleep!

The podium at the end for all the class winners was great, as there were a load of Brits up there. It was good to see honorary Brit(!) David Brabham up there, getting his first GTS win in the Prodrive Ferrari, as well as Johnny Herbert and Andy Wallace. I even got to be interviewed for the Speed TV Channel by my close mate Andrew Marriott, so it couldn't have been a more perfect end to the weekend.

I said in the post race press conference that with the diff change and everything, maybe Bob was looking down on us. Who knows, but somebody certainly was! Next we're off to Laguna Seca, scene of my first ALMS win. Wouldn't it be great if we could make it two out of two?

Road America: Champion Audi wins
Previous article

Road America: Champion Audi wins

Next article

Qualifying: Kristensen's pole

Qualifying: Kristensen's pole
How to get the best out of amateur racers Plus

How to get the best out of amateur racers

Pro-Am GT racing is booming. But how should drivers approach working with an amateur? Autosport sought out a panel of experts to explain the pitfalls amateur drivers should avoid and how professionals can help them to achieve their goals

Apr 3, 2022
The remarkable career of a 'classy' champion who rejected politics Plus

The remarkable career of a 'classy' champion who rejected politics

Over two decades as a factory driver with Audi and BMW, Martin Tomczyk earned the respect of team-mates and rivals as a hard but fair racer. After calling time on his racing career, the 2011 DTM champion sat down with Autosport to look back

Mar 5, 2022
The ex-IndyCar racer in "uncharted territory" of British GT team ownership Plus

The ex-IndyCar racer in "uncharted territory" of British GT team ownership

This weekend’s British GT finale will be a tense title showdown for some but, for those not in the championship fight, it’s a chance to end a challenging year on a high. In the latter camp is Paddock Motorsport's team owner Martin Plowman, whose 2021 season has been a rollercoaster ride of non-stop learning

Oct 15, 2021
The unpopular BMW stalwart built for the big occasion Plus

The unpopular BMW stalwart built for the big occasion

It has won most of the big prizes in endurance racing across its six years in service, but the BMW M6 GT3's key weaknesses meant only a devoted few teams persisted with running it. As it prepares to bow out at season's end, the teams and drivers involved in its story share the secrets of an unpopular winner

Oct 7, 2021
The unwanted GT car that changed sportscar racing forever Plus

The unwanted GT car that changed sportscar racing forever

Had FIA GT boss Stephane Ratel had his way, the Maserati MC12 would never have been allowed to set foot in his series. It duly proved the class of the field that most had expected, but the Balance of Performance that its superiority spawned would keep GT1 battles tight and bring long-term benefits that sportscar racing enjoys today

Sep 21, 2021
Why Britain's greatest sportscar was eclipsed on the world stage Plus

Why Britain's greatest sportscar was eclipsed on the world stage

The E-Type may be the most famous of all road-going Jaguars, but that didn't always translate into success on the track. After winning on its competition debut in 1961, motorsport success seemed an inevitability, but things didn’t turn out to be quite that straightforward

Aug 6, 2021
Why the Jaguar E-type remains special at 60 Plus

Why the Jaguar E-type remains special at 60

It’s 60 years since the Jaguar E-type arrived and caused a sensation. As our resident racer Ben Anderson discovered when he got behind the wheel of two special racing versions at Brands Hatch, the thrill of driving them hasn't diminished over time

Jul 31, 2021
The rise of a GT squad responsible for a unique 24-hour racing feat Plus

The rise of a GT squad responsible for a unique 24-hour racing feat

It's a significant achievement to win one 24-hour race in a year, let alone two, and with different manufacturers, but that's exactly what ROWE Racing did in 2020 at the Nurburgring and Spa. This weekend's German classic offers the DTM newcomer a chance of another unique double to add to its growing collection of accolades

Jun 3, 2021