International racing team RAM Racing is leading the 2015 24H Series after a second place finish in the second round of the championship, the 12 Hours of Mugello, with its #30 Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 and drivers Tom Onslow-Cole (GB), Adam Christodoulou (GB) and Paul White (GB).
The all-British line-up started from third on the grid thanks to a qualifying time by Onslow-Cole. After four hours of racing yesterday afternoon (Friday 13 March), the team had worked its way up to first place. When the race resumed this morning, the trio became embroiled in an ongoing fight for the lead that lasted for several hours and climaxed with a wheel-to-wheel battle between Christodoulou and the #7 Porsche.
However, a queue at the fuelling station combined with unfortunate code 60 periods brought the battle to an end and caused the team to lose more than a lap. It was a gap RAM Racing reduced but ultimately was unable to close, leaving the #30 Mercedes – one of seven SLS AMG GT3s in the race – to cross the line in second place and with it take the championship lead.
“We came here for the race win but we’ll take second, as we have achieved our ultimate goal of leading the championship,” commented Team Principal Dan Shufflebottom. “It wasn’t that we had bad luck, it’s just that the winners had some good luck and that’s just how it goes, we can’t complain.
“The strategy was good, the pit crew were flawless and the drivers did exactly what was asked of them, so I can’t ask for more than that.”
Onslow-Cole and Christodoulou returned to the team this weekend, following a second place finish in Dubai 24 Hours, the opening round of the championship, two months ago. However, it was White’s first time with RAM Racing and his debut race in an SLS, but he didn’t fail to impress by regularly lapping faster than some of the professional drivers on-track alongside him.
“Paul did a mega job,” added Shufflebottom. “To have an amateur driver as strong as him is a huge asset to our team – that’s where we can make the most time up compared to our competitors.”
The consistently impressive driving and strong strategy of the RAM Racing Mercedes meant it finished nine laps ahead of the third placed car, an identical SLS, something Shufflebottom says is testament to the team.
“In honesty, our car isn’t suited to this track, but we worked hard and got the most out of it – to finish so far ahead of all of the other six Mercedes SLS AMG GT3s show how well the team did.
“Going into round three of the six-race championship in the lead is perfect – we’d love to take the inaugural 24H Series overall honours and add to our ELMS championship win from 2013.”
The team, which is also contesting the British GT Championship with a second Mercedes SLS AMG GT3, will return for the third round of the 24H Series, the 12 Hours of Zandvoort, on 30 May.
“We had an incredibly clean run this weekend and we delivered on everything within our control. The team has done a great job with the Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 and our driver line up was seriously strong but sometimes you need that bit of extra luck.”
“The team nailed the pit stops and the drivers did a wicked job but just due to code 60s working better for the competition the win was just impossible. But, second place is enough to give the team the championship lead and that’s the most important thing.”
“It was an honour to race with RAM Racing, they really are an elite team. Lady Luck wasn’t in our corner today but no mistakes were made by the team and we got the best result we could get on the day.”
International racing team RAM Racing, best known for its 2013 ELMS GTLM championship victory, will make its debut in the British GT Championship this weekend with its Mercedes SLS AMG GT3.
Rising superstar Lewis Plato (GB) and experienced GT ace Alistair MacKinnon (GB) will pilot the 6.2-litre machine at the opening round of the nine-race calendar at Oulton Park in Cheshire and, although testing has gone extremely well and both drivers are looking to be incredibly competitive, team principal Dan Shufflebottom knows that this is not a great track for demonstrating the abilities of the SLS.
“Oulton Park is a fantastic track with its undulating twists and turns but we have to be realistic that, with 35 cars on track, it’s going to be tight,” he commented. “We’ve raced the Mercedes SLS in Dubai 24 Hours and Mugello 12 Hours and finished in second place in both. It’s a quick, reliable and well-built car that best suits medium to high-speed corners not the tight turns of Oulton Park.
“However, both drivers have shown great promise in testing and we are confident that they can do a good job. The aim is to come away with two clean races so we can head to the rounds the car is better suited to with some points in the bag.”
In the British GT Championship media day at Brands Hatch last week, Plato and MacKinnon were top of the timing sheet for much of the day and are pleased with how testing has gone despite knowing there is a little more work to do.
“Testing has gone well,” commented Plato. “Our long distance runs have been very successful and we are getting good longevity from the Avon tyre. We have not had as much practice with qualifying runs, however we hope to get more on the Saturday morning before qualifying.
“The car is brilliant, it has been running faultlessly through testing and we’re close to getting the most out of it. As for Outlon Park, I have always qualified in the top two and have won three races there so it’s a place I’m happy to be returning to.”
“Like Lewis, the last time I raced here I stood on the podium and it would be great to repeat that,” added MacKinnon. “We’ve had some great test sessions and we’re as ready as we can be, I just hope we manage to get two dry races and don’t get caught up in any trouble. The Ram Racing team have proven to be one of the top teams in Europe and I’m looking forward to contesting their debut British GT Championship race with them.”
The RAM Racing crew – who last year contested various rounds of the World Endurance Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and are this year are looking for 24H Series championship honours – by no means feel that races at national level are any easier to win.
“If anyone thinks we are coming to the British GT Championship expecting things to be easy compared to Le Mans, they are wrong. The racing here is incredibly competitive and there are some big-name GT drivers for us to beat. We’re looking forward to getting out there and seeing what we can do.”
The first round of the British GT Championship at Oulton Park takes place on Easter weekend, with qualifying on Saturday 4 April and two one-hour races on Monday 6 April.