Still could have been worse for Red River Sport in Thailand

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Some would say that it couldn't get much worse than a DNF in a short race series such as the Asian Le Mans Series, but without some quick thinking behind the wheel of the car Red River Sport earlier today they could have been looking at a destroyed car with one round still remaining.

The third round of four of the 2018-19 Asian Le Mans Series was always just another step along the path to their ultimate goal of the 24 house of Le Mans for the mentor/students driver line up that makes the Red River Sport entry. Gentleman driver Ivor Dunbar was still playing 'catch up' to his co driver Bonamy Grimes having missed the opening round of the season in Shanghai whilst both continued to be mentored by their resident professional driver Johnny Mowlem.

Competing in the GT3 class alongside full factory drivers is perhaps a 'big ask' for someone like Grimes but that he did in Qualifying on Saturday having their allotted fifteen minutes to himself finishing just 2.5 seconds down to Alessandro Pier Guidi on pole in the Spirit of Race Ferrari 488.

Team mate Ivor Dunbar would start the 4Hours of Buriram race for the opening stint to submit initially consistent to then improving lap times before he handed over to Mowlem at the end of the first hour.

Unseen by us on camera, Mowlem emerged from pit lane and into a situation of decreasing power steering efficiency as the power steering pump within his Aston Martin Racing V12 Vantage GT3 began to fail. A close shave with fellow TF Sport racer (in the WEC that is) Salih Yoluc could have proved costly for all as Yoluc contested class position with a fellow LMP2 car with Mowlem the GT meat in the sandwich.

Worse was to come however for Mowlem as approaching the hard braking area for the hairpin at turn 3 he found the brake pedal travelling all the way down to the floor - no brakes!! Instinctively, the extremely experience professional immediately placed his car into a spin in order to remove as much momentum from the car as it passed through the gravel trap before it hit the barrier. Such was his skill was that the final tap with the tyre wall was literally a tap - no significant crash damage.

Having been extracted from the gravel trap under a Full Course Yellow Mowlem managed to limp the car back to the pit where it was soon retired from the race on the grounds of safety.

For Grimes, he did not get to race in Thailand but at least Mowlem saved the car to race again at the final round of the season at Sepang in Malaysia at the end of February. The team however, need to establish the course of both the brake and power steering failure and effect repairs made all the more difficult with the restricted availability of spares in what is for them a continual fly away series.

Its apparently all part of the learning curve!

Photo credits - TF Sport

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