Ram Racing finished their first European Le Mans Series (ELMS) race both of their Ferrari 458 Italia on the LMGTE podium in appalling conditions at Silverstone.
However, while the double podium was strong start to the season the team were still left disappointed – convinced the result would have been even better had the rain not intervened, giving the rear-engined Porsches in the class the advantage.
“If you had said 15 months ago that we would have had a second and third in our first race we would have taken it,” admitted team principal Dan Shufflebottom. “I think there is a little bit of disappointment within the team that we didn’t get a win after getting pole position in qualifying with the No. 52 this morning. It was a really tricky race for the drivers, but we tried to keep them as calm as possible and give them as much information as we could.”
Johnny Mowlem started the #52 car from class position as the rain began to fall, avoiding a spinning LMPC car as he crossed the line to start the three hour race. However, as rain continued to fall, taking its toll on the ELMS field, officials took the decision to red flag the race during the final hour, bringing to an end a lengthy stay behind the safety car.
“I spent most of my time under the safety car, all but two I think, but that still goes down as one of the hardest stints I have ever had in a racing car,” said Matt Griffin, who took over from Mowlem after 80 minutes of the race. “Honestly I was glad to see the safety car come out as conditions were really bad but I could barely keep up with it as we had a big aquaplaning issue. I was worried that if we went much further I’d have crashed. We go out to try and win every race but to come away with P2 and both cars on the podium is an amazing start for the team in its first ELMS race and I’m really confident the top step of the podium won’t be far away for us.”
Gunnar Jeannette and Frankie Montecalvo shared the team’s other car – #53 – both described the conditions as some of the worse they had driven in. However, Montecalvo, making his ELMS debut, was among a small number of drivers – at the team’s behest – to change to wet tyres on the opening lap of the race. The strategy call gave Montecalvo a healthy lead as other teams were forced to tip-toe round in increasingly poor conditions before making their own stops.
“Our engineers and crew made a great call to put rain tyres on the first lap – I didn’t make the call but agreed with it, obviously!” said Montecalvo. “Until the track got really swamped, we really didn’t have any issues. I kept pushing and just focused on opening up a gap. I did everything I could to keep the car on the track but as the rain got worse it became more difficult. To have both cars on the podium is a great result for the team, and I’m now looking forward to the next race which will hopefully be in warmer conditions.”
The next date on the ELMS calendar is May 18, at Imola.