Johnny Mowlem Q&A

After a dominant performance in last year’s European Le Mans Series British privateers RAM Racing have made the move to the top of the food chain. We spoke to team regular Johnny Mowlem about the team’s hopes and worries for their assault on the 2014 World Endurance Championship.

RAM autograph

SCV: What are you expecting for RAM Racing this year?

JM: The depth of talent in the world championship is a lot more than in the European series, though that’s not to put down the ELMS in any way. I suspect that our dominance last year was down to us being super prepared for it, and it’ll be harder for us to be so prepared in a world championship because of the logistics and the Le Mans 24 Hours.

It’s harder for the team to be 100% ready for it; you prepare as best you can and hope you’re gonna cover all the possible pitfalls. But then again if you’d asked that last year I don’t think we’d have been so confident going into it, and then we dominated. I hope we’ll be competitive in both Pro and Pro-Am but we’ll see.

SCV: What kind of changes have you made for the WEC?

JM: We’ve actually kept the same cars; the Pro car has the newest kit on it but the Am car is exactly the same as we ran last year. The Pro car has a great line up with my 2013 teammate Matt Griffin alongside Alvaro Parente, and they’re joined by James Rossiter at Le Mans. That’s a very strong line up for the 24 and they should spring a few surprises.

On a personal level I’ve requested to go in Pro-Am, and that’s because I think there’s a bit more of a level playing field with a Ferrari team like RAM Racing against some of the other teams in the division, especially in terms of winning at Le Mans and in the world championship. Winning Le Mans is very much my dream, I’ve been fortunate enough to stand on the podium but I’ve never actually won my class there.

It’ll all depend on the BoP though. I think if you look at it from an objective point of view the Ferrari isn’t best placed at the moment with performance, particularly against Porsche who clearly have the best package right now in 2014 GT.

SCV: How well has the new team come together?

JM: Everybody knows Ben (Collins) from his exploits as the Stig but for me that’s irrelevant, it’s more his racing background. He was a race winner in British F3, he won the ASCAR, he’s always been extremely fast and competitive in everything he did and so I was under no illusions when he joined the team. He’s probably one of the best Silver drivers anywhere in the world and I think that will show this year.

Mark Patterson is our Bronze driver and he’s an absolutely phenomenal driver. I can’t speak highly enough of the way he’s settled into the team, it blew me away how consistent he is and how much he wants to learn. So on paper we should have a good season but you know it never works out how you hope.

Ram pano

SCV: How does having that wide variety of drivers affect the team?

JM: Ben and I help Mark out a lot but Ben doesn’t really need much help from me, he does look at my data to get him used to the car, but then we all look at each others data. It’s very much an open book and we’re all helping each other; we’re a two car team even though we’re on different sides of the garage and we’re in different divisions.

SCV: The first year in a world championship can be quite daunting, what do you hope to achieve this year?

We’re going to go out there and do the best job we can. If that means we end up winning then we’ll be delighted and if we come last then we won’t be so delighted, but either way we’ll carry on working really hard to improve. I don’t want to put too much pressure on me or the team for Le Mans, which is the big one, but it counts as double points so it’s important for the championship.

I’ve led my class there, I’ve had fastest laps and I’ve finished second in my class but I’ve never actually stood on the top step. I was fortunate enough to drive with Bob Wollek many years ago; I was his last professional team mate before the bike accident in which he was killed. He was a legend in sports cars and he also never managed to win at Le Mans; it’s not going to eat away at me but it’s something I’d like to achieve.

David Brabham said something very interesting to me last year: “There’s no difference when you’re standing on the top step of the podium as to whether you’re an overall or a class winner. The only difference is when you’re an overall winner you get a lot more attention the next day; the moment when you’re standing up there is the same and I’d like to find out if he’s right!

SCV: And finally… will we ever see a return for the fan favourite chrome livery?

Not this year, though we have got a bit more silver! The chrome livery looked great but it’s not necessarily the best car if you’re going to run a night race. We had a lot of trouble with flare coming off the fenders when we were driving, especially when the sun was going down, and it became a bit of a problem. We had to put stickers across the fenders in certain places to stop the dropping sun blinding you, it was really bright! It’s also really difficult to keep looking good over a season because you polish the shine off, but I really liked it myself, I can understand where the fans are coming from because I really enjoyed looking at it!

Johnny will contest the first round of the FIAWEC at the 6 Hours of Silverstone this weekend before heading first to Spa and then to Le Mans.