Johnny Mowlem and his BAR1 Motorsports mates raced hard and finished fourth in class in the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix of Long Beach, the classic American street race.
Mowlem raced in the Prototype Challenge class of the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship. The British star and co-driver Tomy Drissi finished 12th overall in the X-Men: Apocalypse-sponsored, Chevrolet-powered ORECA FLM09.
"It was a very hard race that even though shorter than our normal races. It seemed to go on forever as our car was suffering from a broken splitter and from the very beginning was incredibly hard to drive," Mowlem said.
Drissi qualified the car and drove the first stint of the 100 minute event. Drissi ran into trouble in the tricky, so-called concrete canyons of California before turning the car over to Mowlem.
"Tomy Drissi did a super job because the car was so hard to drive and then when I got in after 50 minutes I pushed as hard as I dared, given how close the walls are at Long Beach. We ended up with a solid fourth in class, which is the best we could have hoped for given the circumstances."
The next event for the globe-trotting Mowlem will be back in California to race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in two weeks.
Johnny Mowlem and his BAR 1 Motorsports teammates finished third in Prototype Challenge, adding another podium finish to Mowlem's astonishing record at Daytona International Speedway, finishing third in class in the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Mowlem qualified his car on the class pole for the second straight year as well as setting the overall prototype fastest lap time in extreme wet conditions.
Throughout the event the team's #20 Southwest Realty Advisors/Zoolander 2/Top 1 Oil Chevrolet-powered ORECA FLM09 spent much of the race running in the top three in class, with Johnny pitting after his first double stint in the class lead and inside the top 10 overall.
They cycled through all the other drivers; Drissi, Drumwright, Vera and Gaughan, and still maintained a top 3 position until the early hours of the morning when contact with the pit wall when exiting the pitlane on cold tyres forced the BAR1 Motorsports team to go back to their pit garage to make repairs, losing them around 18 laps before they could return to the track.
"The team did a phenomenal job to fix the car so quickly", said Mowlem. "I didn't even realise we'd had an incident until later as I'd grabbed a quick hours sleep! That particular pitlane exit can be very tricky at night, especially on cold/new slick tyres. It could have happened to any one of us. From there on out our car ran like clockwork, which is a huge testament to the teams preparation for this gruelling endurance event.
The team continued to cycle through all of their drivers, getting themselves back up third in class with Marc Drumwright getting in for the final 10 minutes of the race to bring the car home for a second consecutive Daytona podium finish.
For Johnny this was his sixth Rolex 24 podium finish, including a win and two overall runners up finishes.
"As I've said before, Daytona has been very kind to me, including me starting my professional career here with a podium finish in my first ever 24 hour race. This year once again we had an opportunity to potentially win, although I have to say the JDC team had the best car this time and fully deserved their victory. Nevertheless, our whole class became a war of attrition and without our accident we would have won comfortably. But I am really happy for Brian Alder and all his team and this is a strong way to start our championship.
Mowlem will race for the BAR 1 team in the full USA based IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship this season as well as in the ACO European Le Mans GT3 Cup in a Ferrari 488 GT3 championship for the FF Corse team.
Johnny Mowlem has captured the Prototype Challenge class pole for the second consecutive year in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Driving in what he called "dreadful" conditions, Mowlem posted the fastest time in qualifying for both of the prototype classes, to secure the overall prototype pole, but the organizers decided to start the event by class rather than by time because of the difficult driving conditions at Daytona International Speedway.
I'm delighted for Brian Alder and the whole BAR1 Motorsports crew. They all work so hard for very little recognition and like I told them all afterwards, we are a team and we got this pole position together. It just shows everyone on them outside what a great group of people we have and what a great team BAR 1 are. Obviously the qualifying doesn't count towards winning a Rolex watch but it's a good start!"
The race will be broadcast on the Fox family of networks, starting at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.
Mowlem, a former winner at Daytona, drives the #20 Zoolander 2, Southwest Realty Advisors/Top 1 Oil Chevrolet-powered ORECA FLM09 for BAR1 Motorsports.
Johnny Mowlem and his BAR1 Motorsports teammates fought their way around the clock twice and took second in the Prototype Challenge class in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, part of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship, and the first round of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Championship.
Mowlem and co-drivers Brian Alder, Tom Papadopoulos, Tomy Drissi and Martin Plowman started on the PC class pole and 12th on the overall grid. They completed 713 laps around Daytona International Speedway's 3.56-mile road course.
Mowlem, driving the BAR1 Motorsports team's No. 16 SpongeBob (the movie) / Autosports Designs / Southwest Realty Advisors / Top1 Oil car and who put the car on the class pole earlier in the week, took the race start and drove a double stint, handing over the car after nearly 2 hours in the class lead and also 5th place overall.
A number of car problems then hit to put the #16 BAR1 Motorsports car nearly 10 laps down on the Prototype Challenge class leader and outside the top 35 overall. But then the fight-back began, with the whole team doing a superb job at the pit-stops and the drivers all performing on track to drag themselves back into contention.
With 3 hours to go they took second place, only for a left rear puncture to drop them back to third again. This third place then became second place when the class leading Core Autosport #54 PC crashed with 20 minutes left in the race.
This meant that for Mowlem the second place finish was bitter sweet.
"When I saw Colin Braun's car in the wall, all that flashed through my mind was a nice shiny Rolex watch and what might have been. I felt awful for the Core Motorsports team, as they truly deserved that win, and them crashing made it worse for me especially as just 2 hours before we had taken second place from the PR1 Motorsports team, who of course then inherited that win. Having said that, congratulations to them for a great race, as they also had their own problems to overcome. No one wins a race as tough as the Daytona 24 hours without fully deserving it." Said Mowlem.
"Also, I am so pleased for Tom Papadopoulos and Brian Alder for seeing their plans come together so well, and a big thank you to my other 2 team-mates Tomy Drisi and also Martin Plowman who superbly stepped in for a couple of stints and really helped me out from going over my maximum driving time for the race! Also I must thank my engineers John Travis and Michael McLaughlin who gave me a racecar that made me look good and ALL the boys who worked so hard both before and during the race to allow us to get such a great result. I feel a bit battered and bruised this morning, but pleased nevertheless. Only thing that would make things perfect would be another shiny Rolex on my bedside locker!"
The "Spongebob" #16 BAR1 Motorsports car eventually finished 2nd in class and 10 the overall, giving Mowlem his sixth top 10 finish in the American endurance classic and his fourth class podium finish alongside his GT victory in 2006. The next race for the TUSC and North American Endurance Championship will be the 12 Hours of Sebring, also in Florida, USA.
Johnny Mowlem and SpongeBob will start the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona for the pole of the Prototype Challenge class.
Mowlem, driving the BAR1 Motorsports team's No. 16 SpongeBob (the movie) / Autosports Designs / Southwest Realty Advisors / Top1 Oil car posted the quickest lap in class in the closing moments of the session. The British star zipped around the famed Daytona road course in of one minute, 42.318 seconds, averaging 125.257 mph.
Mowlem and co-drivers Brian Alder, Tom Papadopoulos, Tomy Drissi and Martin Plowman will start the car 12th on the overall grid.
"I'm really happy for the team," said Mowlem. "Thanks to Brian, John Travis, our chief engineer, for setting up a great car and to all of the crew. I'm excited to start the Autosports Design / SpongeBob car from the pole."
The other BAR1 entry, the No. 61 car, qualified fifth in the PC class.
The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 at Daytona will run Jan. 22-25. The start of the race will be broadcast on, Jan. 24 on FOX, starting at 2:00 pm. IMSA Radio will carry the entire broadcast, link at IMSA.com.
Top line Prototype Challenge team BAR1 Motorsports have announced a full season for their #16 PC race car and they have retained experienced pro driver Johnny Mowlem to lead their number one car. Johnny will be joined once again by ex-Ferrari Challenge champion Tom Papadopoulos. Their 2015 campaign starts at next weekend's official test for the Rolex Daytona 24 hours race.
This news marks a return to Daytona for the two time British and one time European champion Mowlem, whose full time racing commitments since 2012 have meant that he has been unable to compete at the famous blue riband 24 hour event.
"I am so pleased to be racing again for Brian Alder and his superb team," said Mowlem, "even better is that it means after a three year absence I get to return to the famous Daytona Speedway. I have such happy memories of the place. From 12 times racing there I've been lucky enough to finish on the podium four times, finished two times in second overall and won the famous Rolex watch once, so I hope that luck holds in 2015!"
Team owner Brian Alder is delighted to have Johnny back racing with BAR1 Motorsports.
"Having Johnny skills back in our team gives us some much needed continuity from 2014" said Brian, "Johnny proved by leading for us for much of the first 2 hours of Petit Le Mans that we are a front running team and can win races and I believe Tom and him can be a threat for the championship. We are evaluating other drivers to join Johnny and Tom for the North American Endurance Cup races, and we are also close to announcing our plans for our second car for the 2015 season, so the future is looking solid."
The 24-hour race will be contested January 24-25.