Johnny Mowlem At Sears Point
ACEMCO Getting Ever Closer To The Corvettes

dailysportscar.comJohnny Mowlem and Terry Borcheller finished third, yet again (three in a row) at Infineon Raceway last Sunday (July 17), in the ACEMCO Saleen – but this was the most competitive outing yet for the leading challenger to the C6.Rs.

It coincided with a slight increase in restrictor sizes, but as Johnny Mowlem explains, that was only a small part of the performance increase.

“Sears Point naturally suits the Saleen, so that was the first reason for the improvement. ACEMCO has been developing various packages to try and find the S7R's sweetspot and although we had seen parts of that at previous races, I think that at Sears Point, for the first time we got a very good spring/damper combination and this helped us to unlock some more of the potential of the car.

“We had Jim Bell back with us at Sears Point, and with a really good set-up, and a slight increase in power, I reckon we found a second in relation to the Corvettes. Being wildly optimistic, the power increase would only have been responsible for two or three tenths of that performance gain, as to truly optimise the slight increase in restrictor you would have to put the engine back on the dyno. The rest was down to the set-up.

“It was my turn to qualify, and yes, I was pleased with my lap, but even nicer was the reaction of the whole team. They all work so hard for little or no glory and it was nice to see them all so pumped up after qualifying." – that lap put the ACEMCO S7R just three-tenths behind the pole position Corvette.“At the start of the race, I could just about hang onto the C6.Rs, but then I caught traffic in the just the wrong places for about three laps and lost over six seconds. But we were still less than 20 seconds behind at the first round of pit stops. The Maserati was 40 seconds behind me.

“The great thing about keeping in touch with the leaders is that it dramatically reduces the chances of going a lap down if there’s a safety car. Earlier in the season, when we’d be more likely to drop two-thirds of a lap to the Corvettes, I’d be praying that we didn’t get a safety car while the leader was between us. But when the gap is around 10 to 15 seconds, you’d have to be horribly unlucky to have the overall leader between you when a safety car appears.

“I think the Maserati got caught at Infineon and lost a lap, but that only explains part of the difference between us at the flag – which was two laps.

“In Terry’s final stint they gave him a splash of fuel and tyres and he then drove a storming 30 minutes to the end, and we were still on the lead lap.

“It's always nice to make progress and move in the right direction. Aside from the performance issues, our reliability this year (touch wood!), has been incredible, and that is totally down to the ACEMCO team. As I think Jeff Giangrande has been quoted as saying, the factory Corvettes have really set the bar high both in performance and reliability, and whether other people accept it or not, to be able to even challenge them means that you have to be up there as one of the best GT1 teams in the world. We're trying hard to go and earn that mantle, but we know that for us to beat both of their cars will take an almost superhuman effort! Of one thing you can be certain however, is that we're not going to give up trying.

“The one thing I really like about the ALMS is that there is a huge amount of respect between all the competitors, at least within the same class anyway! I think that the Maserati people have now got a lot of respect for the factory Corvettes as they have now experienced them at first hand, and I know there is a lot of mutual respect between ourselves, the Maserati and also the Pacific Coast C5. Even the Carsport American team get their Viper going seconds quicker than a Dodge Viper has ever gone before!

“It's a nice environment to race in and it means that everyone drives everybody else forward, and come the end of the year, we're going to have another of the best GT1 teams in the world join us again, with the Prodrive Aston Martins. Then it really will be a fight to get on the podium!”


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