After being forced to skip last month’s Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, Ram Racing has returned to FIA World Endurance Championship competition for this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The second-year British squad, run by ex-F1 Mercedes F1 lead mechanic Dan Shufflebottom, embarks on its maiden Le Mans, despite having won the GTE championship in the European Le Mans Series last year.
Ram’s transition to the world’s stage hasn’t been without its challenges, though, as an unexpected budget shortfall put the two-car Ferrari squad on the sidelines after only its second race.
“It was a difficult one for us missing Spa,” Shufflebottom told Sportscar365. “I think everybody sat and watched it and wanted to be there.
“Although it would have been very useful to be there and iron out the issues we had at Silverstone, we still managed to spend a lot of time at the workshop going through stuff and making sure we’ve got our procedures right.
“I think we needed to come here to have a good test day and that’s what we did. We had a solid day and got a lot of stuff done. I think we have a good baseline for both cars going into the week. I think we’re fairly happy at the moment.”
The team’s lineup has changed since the opening FIA WEC round, with Archie Hamilton replacing Ben Collins in the No. 53 GTE-Am entry with Johnny Mowlem and Mark Patterson.
Former GT3 and GT Open champion Federico Leo, meanwhile, joins Matt Griffin and Alvaro Parent in the No. 52 car, which is the only non-factory effort in GTE-Pro this year.
“I think just to finish this race [in GTE-Pro] is going to be a good result,” Shufflebottom said. “I don’t see why that if we keep it clean and stay quick through the race, we were obviously fairly quick with the car in the test day.
“There was a fair bit of sandbagging going on from some of the teams for sure. I think we’ve still got a bit more to go as well. If we have a top-five result in [GTE-Pro], we’ll be happy with that.
“With the Am car, I don’t see any reason why a podium isn’t possible.”
As for the team’s plan post-Le Mans, Shufflebottom says they have remained unchanged.
“At the moment there [are no concerns],” he said. “It’s still our plan to complete the championship. Obviously it’s always a fine balancing act to make sure you’ve got the money to complete it and it only takes something to go horribly wrong and all of a sudden it changes things.
“We’re planning to go to Texas and continue the rest of the year.”
He said, however, admitted the driver lineup is in a bit of a flux, particularly with the third driver for the No. 53 car.
” The Pro car is pretty much set, although Alvaro will miss COTA because he’s got a commitment with McLaren,” Shufflebottom said. “With the Am car, it will definitely be Johnny and Mark.
“Who the Silver will be, we don’t know at the moment. We’d like to keep Archie on board and he’s quite keen to do it but I think a lot of things hinge on what happens next weekend.
“I’m keen to get some stability in the team with drivers. It’s not good to keep mixing and matching. But obviously if that’s what needs to happen to make it work, then that’s what we’ll do.”