UltraTek Racing Team RJN battled hard after a challenging weekend of technical issues and a stop and go penalty for Car #53 of Plowman and Fletcher, to triumph and leave Silverstone with silverware and leading the Pro-Am Championship standings.
UltraTek Racing was in action this weekend at Silverstone for the latest round of the British GT Championship. With car 54 ruled out after sustaining damage at Snetterton, the hopes of the team rested on Plowman and Fletcher in the 53 Nissan NISMO 370Z.
After a challenging morning and a last-minute engine change, Plowman and Fletcher gave it their all and qualified 3rd in class. With both drivers feeling that they had more to give, the 500 miles was going to be interesting.
The Nissan 370Z made its way to the grid under bright sunny skies and the field formed for the rolling start. With Kelvin Fletcher behind the wheel, car #53 made a great start, and by the 30 min mark, Fletcher had perfectly executed the team strategy to preserve the car while carefully picking off several cars to find himself 2nd in class.
As Fletcher was preparing for his pit stop, the #4 Tolman McLaren made a late lunge into the Brooklands, and despite Fletcher leaving adequate racing room, the McLaren hit the front wheel of the Nissan. Unfortunately, this took the McLaren out of the race and because of this, the Stewards had to act and imposed a 120-second penalty on car 53.
The team delivered a perfect pit stop after 48 minutes as Plowman took his place behind the wheel, only to re-enter the pits at the 1-hour mark to serve the stop and go penalty. Plowman emerged from the pits 5th in class and a lap down, so it appeared that all was lost.
Plowman refused to accept the almost inevitable mid-table result and delivered a number of class-leading fastest laps as he charged round. Showing his true professionalism, Plowman was clean, incisive and mechanically sympathetic to deliver one of the finest stints of his life closing the gap to the cars in front.
The team delivered their second textbook stop of the day at the 1 hour 40 mark to put a determined Fletcher back in the car. Fletcher was focused and ready to compensate for the harsh penalty imposed earlier in the race, knowing anger would not help, he set about making progress like a true racing driver, with fast, clean laps on the track. Still running 5th in class, Fletcher chased down the pack in front as he put in a stunning stint in the Nissan. With 50 mins left to go, Fletcher got his man and passed Newbold to put the #53 Nissan 4th in class.
The car pitted for the final time, and despite being held up by a Ginetta in the pits, came out with a hard-charging Plowman on board. With the bit between his teeth and the car in good shape and a good position because of Fletcher’s hard work and the team’s excellent pit stop, Plowman could smell blood in the water. Because of the pit stop sequencing, Plowman emerged 5th in class.
At such a late stage in the race, Plowman was lapping faster than anybody else in the GT4 category as he reeled in 4th place. With 38 minutes left to go, Plowman’s tenacity paid off as he jumped two spots to move into 3rd. The platinum driver kept the pressure on again setting the fastest lap of the race with 33 mins to go.
As endurance races are not just about speed, the teams earlier strategy to look after the car was coming in to play as with 25 mins to go, the Ginetta of Burns developed a problem and slowed, allowing Plowman to pick him off for second in class.
With 20 minutes to go, Plowman was 26 seconds behind the leader but was lapping 4 seconds a lap faster. Plowman kept focus despite the heat and closed the gap to take the lead with four laps left to go.
Despite the earlier adversity and misfortune of the stop and go penalty, Martin Plowman crossed the line first in class to deliver not only the first silverware for the driver pair but also, more surprisingly, Martin Plowman’s first ever British Podium finish. The result also moves car #53 to the head of the GT4 Pro-Am Championship table with three rounds left to go.
Martin Plowman commented, “I still can’t believe we did it. An incredible race from the whole team to turn it around. Kelvin was fast and faultless all race long. Because of his last stint, he put the team back into contention. That last stint I knew I had to do a 50-minute qualifying session to close the gap, I know I got everything out of it today, left everything out on track. The car was great all day, a massive thank you goes to all of RJN mechanics for their late nights. Such a special day!”
Kelvin Fletcher commented “‘Another challenging start to the weekend but we were still confident going into the race. Hopes were high until we were handed a 120-second penalty but we kept fighting and believing. After 3 rounds of missed practice and qualifying sessions, we certainly deserved this. The guys in the team have worked non-stop so it was extra special to be able to repay them with the win.”
The team now have a well-earned break before the championship recommences in Spa on the 21st July. You can watch highlights of the race on Channel 4 on the 17th June.