Long Beach, California – April 14th, 2012 – After dominating a very rainy practice at the Streets of Long Beach, Conquest Endurance and Martin Plowman set high expectations of a break through weekend for the team.
The Grand Prix at Long Beach provided its own challenges to the young Conquest Endurance team. With the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron as the support series for the weekend, the team was limited to one two-hour practice before qualifications, and later, the race. The weather in Long Beach prevented the team from taking the track for 30 minutes of the two-hour practice session. Once the intense rain eased, Plowman took the wheel and drove the Morgan-Nissan #37 machine to an impressive overall third place lap time and first in class by over 5 seconds.
Plowman commented after practice, “The conditions were very tricky out there, but after two laps I got into my rhythm. The car was one of the best I’ve driven in the rain. Based on this practice, I wouldn’t mind if it stayed wet all weekend!”
He got his wish, but not quite in the way he wanted. Qualifications started under dry conditions with impending clouds. As Plowman readied the car, a heavy storm descended on the track, causing the race officials to cancel qualifying and start the race based on overall championship standings. Conquest Endurance, antsy to qualify on pole, would now start sixth in the next day’s race.
Plowman’s teammate, David Heinemeier Hansson, started the race. After a solid drive by the Dane, Hansson was forced to pit at the 45 minute mark, and therefore hand over the car to Plowman, due to a question with the car’s fuel pressure. Plowman took the wheel and was soon notified that during the driver change they were issued a pit lane speed violation. While serving the 20-second penalty, the car once again sped through pit lane, earning the team another 20-second penalty. A faulty speed limiter proved to be the Achilles Heel of the team that day. On a mission, Plowman put in a sterling drive, posting the fastest lap of the race and re-established a 20-second lead over the Level 5 P2 car of Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut. Needing to stop again for fuel, Conquest Endurance’s chances of victory faded when Plowman peeled into pit lane for the team’s final stop.
Despite the race’s challenges, Conquest Endurance is able take pride in their performance after dominating most of the weekend and finishing the race leading the most laps and solidly clenching the fastest lap with Plowman’s 1:18.083. This puts Plowman and the team in the spotlight as they travel next to Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA on May 12.
Martin Plowman: “To finish second when your car is dominating the race is a blow. I have to say a huge thank you to Thierry Bouvet my engineer and the whole team for giving us a great car. All weekend the car was very dialed in. The issue we had with the pit-lane speed limiter unfortunately cost us the race. We showed a lot of speed today so I really wanted to repay the team with the win. I can’t wait for Monterey; our first win is just around the corner. Today’s race is only going to make us even more determined.”
Eric Bachelart, Conquest Endurance Team Owner: “We had a very good car this weekend and we definitely should’ve won the race. The drivers and the crew did an outstanding job. Unfortunately we had a couple of pit speed violations that made us lose time, but we proved how strong we can be and I’m very confident that we’ll win. This team has a lot of potential.”