Rainy Start to Season Opener

Posted on: April 15th, 2013 by Martin Plowman

England’s typically rainy weather provided challenges to Martin Plowman and his OAK Racing teammates in the FIA WEC season opener at Silverstone, UK. http://stillbirthalliance.org/buy-viagra-today Battling a brief rain at the start of qualifications and a quickly drying track, the #35 OAK Racing car qualified fourth in class. Throughout the six-hour race, the car looked like a podium contender, but succumbed to a faulty starter motor and a fuel miscalculation which moved them back to fourth place.

The weekend started off strong for Plowman in the #35 Morgan Nissan car. A cold practice one allowed him to learn the track. Though the Brit grew up less than two hours from Silverstone, he had never raced the iconic track. Times were slow during this practice as the track was very wet in places with patches of dry, changing the grip on the track at every turn. Practice 2 allowed Plowman to pick up speed. Though it was still cold, the sun came out at lap 5, drying out the track. When Plowman handed the car over to teammate Ricardo Gonzalez, he had placed the car P2 in class. Practice 3 was on Saturday, the last practice before that day’s qualifying session. Plowman took the car in the last 21 minutes of the 60-minute session and went straight to P1 in class, constantly picking up the pace.

Qualifying procedure was new to the FIA WEC and unlike any the team had participated in before. Two drivers from each car qualified in the 20-minute session, and each driver’s best two laps were averaged together to determine starting order. Bertrand Baguette qualified the car first, only doing three flying laps due to the quick qualifying session. It rained right before he took the car, and the team had to pull him back from the qualifying line to change to cut slick tires. Following Bertrand’s laps, Martin took the wheel and set quick times on the drying track. There was much confusion at the end of the session, as the timing and scoring system wasn’t calculating the averages accurately. Once the times were manually calculated, the #35 had qualified P4 in class.

Plowman started the six-hour race with a two-stint session. He came in to pit at 46 minutes into the race for fuel only. Not taking new tires was a struggle, as the grip on the tires and the lap times were falling quickly. Plowman pitted again with 4 hours and 25 minutes to go and Gonzalez took the wheel for a rainy double stint. Baguette was third in the car at 3 hours and 6 minutes to go, also doing a double stint. From strong driving and cars moving through their pit cycles, Baguette handed the car over to Plowman in P2. But during that pit stop, the starter motor failed which kept the car in the pits for over 5 minutes extra as the team hurried to completely replace it with a new starter motor. Plowman left the pits in P5 in class and with very cold tires.

As the race charged on, Plowman moved toward the front, slowly moving into P4 then to P3. With 33 minutes to go in the race, he pitted for a fuel splash moving back to P4 and right behind the #49 car. He kept a steady hand knowing the #49 would eventually need to pit and he would move into P3. Having not taken new tires during the last pit stop, Plowman’s tires were starting to go, slowing his times and allowing the #41 to pass him and take third place. The team was communicating that there may have been a fuel calculation error, though they were holding hope that there would be just enough to take the checkered flag. With a mere three minutes and forty seconds left in the race, Plowman radioed to the team that the “blue light” had come on, meaning he was low on fuel. Heart-broken, the team instructed him to pit this lap. At one minute and forty-five seconds left, he pitted for a splash of fuel, crushing all hopes of a podium finish. He crossed the line fifth in class, though after the race the #41 Greaves Motorsport car was given a one-lap penalty, moving the #35 car into fourth in class.

Martin Plowman, driver: “I’m just gutted for the #35 car today. We had the car for a comfortable third-place finish and possible second-place finish that slipped away because of a faulty starter motor. I tried everything I could to overhaul the deficit to third; we even decided not to take tires for my last stop. It gave me the position, but not the resources to hold off for forty minutes. Our car seemed to destroy tires today, so doing a second stint on the tires was very tricky. Although today could have gone a lot better, I know it could have also gone a lot worse, so I’m happy to walk away with solid points for the championship.”

Plowman’s next race will be the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on 3, 4 May 2013. Live streaming of that race and all FIA WEC races can be found at www.fiawec.com.

Follow Martin online at www.facebook.com/officialplowey and www.twitter.com/plowey. Twitter updates during the race and practices can be found at @PloweyLive, @OAKRacingLIVE and @FIAWEC.

For press opportunities, email plowey.pr@gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Paul Maskens

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