Conquest Endurance, once again fought a hard battle, only to settle for a second-place finish at the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. After a pit issue caused the team to drop two laps back, Martin Plowman charged the car through the field and within seconds of first place. It was then that a late-race incident caused the race to end under caution, leaving Plowman and his teammate David Heinemeier Hansson to accept their runner-up trophy.
Plowman set the pace in practice, topping the P2 charts. In between practice and qualifying, the team rushed to fix an engine issue that had shown itself at the end of the second and final practice, meaning that the car would qualify under less-than-ideal conditions. Overnight, the team remedied the engine problem and Plowman once again led the P2 pack in the pre-race warm-up session.
Heinemeir Hansson drove the first one hour and 21 minutes before passing the car to Plowman. During the driver change, a problem with latching the seat belts and a penalty for pit lane speeding caused the #37 car to find itself two laps behind the leaders. Plowman’s experience and technical ability came into play as he fought his way through the field, aided by two yellow flag periods, and recovered the lost laps. With 20 minutes left in the race, Plowman was breathing down the neck of the first-place #055 Level 5 car, where he set the fastest lap time of the race. As Plowman began his attack, a wild crash brought the race to yellow with only 8 minutes to go, ending the race under caution and shutting down Plowman’s chance to pass for the lead.
This past weekend marked Conquest Endurance’s third second-place finish in a row. Unwilling to settle for second, the team will next race at Mosport International Raceway in Ontario July 19-21, where they will press on to victory.
Martin Plowman, driver: “Coming so close to victory and feeling like it was torn from you with an unfortunately timed yellow is hard to stomach. I’m definitely disappointed. Once I got into the car, the guys told me I had to do qualifying laps until the end of the race, so I started pushing like crazy and gave the drive of my life to make up the two laps. I managed to cut down the 12-second gap we were behind Tucker, but by then our tires were very worn out and it was very difficult to get close to him to set up a pass. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of time to try the pass because a yellow came out and I just never had the chance to go for the win.
“On the positive side, we had a very fast car. We had the car to win and to get pole yesterday. We also had the fastest lap of the race. So obviously it’s disappointing that we didn’t win, but it’s also encouraging because we know that once we work out the kinks, we’ll be even stronger.”