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Mowlem: Ferrari “A Natural Fit” for Red River Sport’s GTE Debut

Johnny Mowlem, Bonamy Grimes explain the background to their WEC debut with Ferrari…

Photo: MPS Agency

Red River Sport co-founder Johnny Mowlem says that his client and co-driver Bonamy Grimes’ alignment with Ferrari for the British team’s FIA World Endurance Championship debut was a “natural fit”.

The Red River Sport squad is a new addition to the GTE-Am grid with its Ferrari 488 GTE Evo operated by AF Corse and driven by Mowlem, Grimes and Charlie Hollings.

Mowlem started working with Grimes in 2016, six months after launching the Red River Sport agency with British racing driver Ivor Dunbar, with the pair working up through the sports car ladder to reach the WEC.

“I’ve known [AF Corse owner] Amato Ferrari for many years,” said Mowlem. “He’s very straight up and transparent. It was a natural fit. In terms of the personalities, I’m very happy with the decision Bon made.

“We made the decision going into 2019 as to which team and car to go for, I went away to all the different teams – Ferrari, Aston Martin and Porsche.

“It wasn’t just about the budgets. It was about the situation they were in to offer us what they could. We literally made a list together and went through the whole thing.

“I told Bon the pros and cons of each, in my opinion. He made a few of his own, and then he went away and made a decision.”

Grimes and Mowlem started their partnership in national competitions with Ferrari Challenge machinery before expanding into LMP3 and GT3 competition, which included a full Asian Le Mans Series program with an Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 in 2018-19.

However, Mowlem reckons the best preparatory step for Grimes and Red River Sport’s WEC graduation was the LMP3 experiences they had with the Ligier JS P3 and Norma M30 chassis.

“[LMP3] gives you something that, in a way, is closer to a GTE than a GT3, because you don’t have the ABS or the traction control,” he explained.

“A GTE has traction control, but not ABS. When Bon first got into an LMP3 car, I have to admit, he struggled with the braking. But he really got on top of that and it moved him forward.

“I think he learned more in that than in anything else. He really got himself into a good position.”

Grimes feels that his previous experiences in Ferraris helped steer him towards the 488 GTE Evo over the GTE-Am offerings from Aston Martin and Porsche.

“My first car was a 458 Challenge car and I’ve gone on to the 488 series, and this is at the top,” he told Sportscar365.

“I’m more used to driving a car with the engine in the back. It probably suits my driving style a bit more. Doing the LMP3 was great for not having ABS and not relying on just mashing the pedal. Finesse is required.

“We haven’t spent a lot of time in the [GTE] car. We’ve done four test days. We’ve got a lot to learn and we’re very realistic about where we’ll be. It’s a learning exercise.”

Conservative Aims for Debut Season

Mowlem said that Red River Sport’s main goal is to be in a position for a reliable run at Le Mans, which closes the season next June.

“I’m not talking about podiums or winning the class, but to have a good strong clean race, it would be a good season,” he suggested ahead of the 4 Hours of Silverstone.

“I would say that’s the main objective, to have a clean race here. All of us can be very competitive, so we just need to focus on ourselves.

“If we can have a nice debut – hopefully we won’t finish last – but we’re not really here to set the world alight at this early stage. We’d be crazy to do that. We’re going to go out there, enjoy it, and see what happens.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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