The ACEMCO Motorsport Ferrari 360 Modena has retired from the Le Mans 24 Hours after ten-and-a-half hours and a spell at the front of the closely-contested.GT class.

British driver Johnny Mowlem pulled to the side of the road on the Mulsanne Straight with a blown engine, signalling the end of the road for the American team. The Briton had just taken over the car from Shane Lewis, who had taken the lead of the class when the #95 entry Modena fell victim to the problem while leading the LM GT class.

The team of Lewis, Mowlem and Butch Leitzinger had charged from seventh on the grid to take the class lead from a string of Porsche 911s just short of the mid-point of the world's most famous sportscar race when the failure occurred. Lewis came from two laps down to take the point just prior ACEMCO Motorsports' ninth pit-stop of the event.

Mowlem took over driving duties from Lewis and was in the car when the engine expired at the Playstation Chicane on the famous Mulsanne Straight just after 0230hrs local time.

"This was my first Le Mans, and I am delighted to have been part of this historic event," ACEMCO Automotive owner Jeff Giangrande said, "Our car was very competitive in the hands of some fine drivers and we can take heart from our performance this weekend."

"I can't believe it," commented Lewis, who fought the emotions between elation of leading in his fourth Le Mans start and the devastation of falling out of the event, "The whole crew did just a terrific job. I really want to thank them for giving me such a great car to drive.

"Every one of the guys worked so hard to put us up-front when almost everyone outside of the team said we couldn't do it. The ACEMCO pit-stops where awesome, Yokohama gave us an incredible tyre, Jeff provided everything we needed to run well. We had everything in place to have a great finish.

"It was thrilling to lead Le Mans in a Ferrari and it shows how good this team is. It's hard to take right now but we'll pack it all up and head to Road Atlanta, learn from this and be stronger. I really want to thank Jeff and my co-drivers, Butch and Johnny. They did an awesome job and I can't think of two better guys to come to Le Mans with. Now that I've had my teeth in it, I have a taste for leading at Le Mans. We'll be back to finish the meal next year."