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?

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