Following a podium finish in the Creventic 24H Series season-opener, Dubai 24 Hours, Ram Racing has entered the full 2015 championship with its Mercedes SLS AMG GT3.
The series, which became a full FIA championship this year, includes three 12-hour races and three 24-hour races, making it the largest long-distance endurance racing series in the world.
Ram Racing, the 2013 European Le Mans Series GTLM championship winner, will enter the front-running GT3 Pro class and has confirmed that British professional racing driver Tom Onslow-Cole will join them at each of the remaining five rounds, after the 27-year old impressed in Dubai.
“We took a bit of a gamble on Onslow-Cole in Dubai,” commented Team Principal Dan Shufflebottom. “He’d not driven the SLS competitively before and had only once contested the race in a diesel Golf. However, he was worth every penny and in every session was within the top five. He’s great for the team on-track and off-track and we’re all pleased he’s signed with us for the year.”
Onslow-Cole, who contested all but one of the 24H Series races last year commented: “After competing in most of the 24H Series races last year I’m excited to be coming back and contesting the full championship. My relationship with Ram Racing has gone from strength-to-strength and, after a successful outing in Dubai, I couldn’t be happier to be racing with them this season."
The team is currently in talks with a second professional driver to join Onslow-Cole for the entire season. In the championship’s 24-hour races, the team will call on support from other top GT racers as well as fielding team-regular Cheerag Arya (IN).
“The calendar for this year is really strong,” concluded Shufflebottom. “Long-distance endurance racing is becoming more and more popular and, when you start to take 24 hour racing to places like Paul Ricard, you know you are involved in something that is going to be huge in the future. Hats off to all at Creventic for identifying what teams, drivers and fans want and for running a great series. We’re looking forward to being a part of it this year.”
The season continues with the 12 Hours of Italy on 13/14 March at Circuit Mugello in Tuscany, Italy.
The 2015 24h Series calendar:
Dubai 24 Hours – Complete
12 Hours of Mugello – 13/14 March
12 Hours of Zaandvoort – 29/30 May
Paul Ricard 24 Hours – 11/12 July
Barcelona 24 Hours – 5/6 September
12 Hours of Brno – 9/10 October
Ram Racing will start the 10th annual Dubai 24 Hours from fourth on the grid in its new Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 with drivers Thomas Jaeger (DE), Adam Christodoulou (GB), Tom Onslow-Cole (GB) and Cheerag Arya (IN).
In the first of two qualifying sessions earlier today (8 January) Jaeger, Christodoulou and Onslow-Cole took turns in the 6.2-litre V8 machine, all setting times within the top five by the end of the hour.
For the second qualifying, a half-hour session limited to the top three classes, AMG factory driver Jaeger was selected to take part. With less traffic on the 5.39-km long track, the lap times dropped dramatically and the true pace of the GT3s was shown.
Demonstrating his speed and experience, Jaeger qualified in fourth, a position that puts the team in a strong place for the start of the 24-hour race.
"After today, I’m confident that we can get a good result this weekend,” he commented. “The team had no experience with the car before this race so it is an amazing achievement to be in the top four. The second row on the grid is a great place to be and we hope for a clean race tomorrow.”
Despite contesting the Dubai 24 Hours last year in the team’s Ferrari 458 GT3, this is the first competitive outing for the its new Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 and team principal Dan Shufflebottom is pleased with how the team has adapted so quickly: “The team has done a great job so far,” he commented. “We’ve out-qualified some very well-respected teams that have been running the Mercedes for a few years, so we’re understandably very pleased.
“Fourth place is hopefully enough to keep us out of trouble at the start and puts us in a strong position stay with the lead pack for the first stint, but it’s a long race and we have a lot more work to do.”
Dubai 24 Hours starts at 1400hrs local time tomorrow (Friday 9 January). Fans in the UK can watch the race from 09.30hrs GMT on Motors TV.