Martin Plowman was in action this weekend for UltraTek RJN in the Nissan 370 GT4 for round three of the British GT Championship at Snetterton. In what was a testing round for Plowman and teammate Taffinder, there were many positives including Taffinder making a breakthrough and showing pace with competitive times illustrating how he has improved since the start of the season.
The weekend got off to a challenging start with a very rare mechanical failure to the otherwise bulletproof Nissan. The team did a phenomenal job of replacing the rear differential in half an hour, an amazing achievement. The result was that the drivers missed a good proportion of FP1, the knock on effect was that the team didn’t perfect their setup before qualifying.
With the team working hard on Saturday night to finalise the setup, Sunday morning brought a new found sense of optimism. Race one started by AM driver Taffinder in blazing sunshine and 22-degree heat. He was showing his personal development with door handle to door handle racing with his peers. The halfway point of the race saw the UltraTek RJN Nissan’s pit for a driver change; it was car #53 that came in first for a smooth handover from Taffinder to Plowman.
The Le Mans Winner made an immediate impact pushing the car to the 1 minute 59’s and closing the eight-second gap to the Porsche in front in a matter of a few laps. Plowman spent much of the session hounding Malvern in the #66 Porsche to pass him at the twenty-minute mark to take 5th in class. All was going well until Plowman made an uncharacteristic mistake and ran wide with 9 minutes to go, causing him to hand the place back to the Porsche. Not deterred, Plowman hunted the #66 Porsche back down and was all over the back bumper with two minutes remaining but just couldn’t quite make it stick and he crossed the line sixth in class.
There was no break in the weather for the second race of the day, and it was the turn of the pro drivers to start the race. Plowman lined up on row ten of the grid and made a blistering start; the Tamworth-born racer knuckled down to gain three places on the first lap putting him 4th in class. With Plowman hogging more than his fair share of TV coverage due to his close racing, dramatic overtaking attempts and also pushing the McLaren down the Bentley Straight, he entertained the crowds and showed his own exciting brand of racing.
Not content with that Plowman earned another place on lap two to take him to third in class and was piling the pressure on the McLaren of Mackay. At the halfway point, Plowman headed for the pits for the driver change with the #53 Nissan 2nd in class with 25 minutes left to go.
As Taffinder emerged from the pits, a stranded Bentley GT3 had triggered the appearance of the safety car putting him in the unenviable position of having the entire grid behind him, bunched up for the restart and having lost the cushion Plowman had built for him. The race restarted with 15 minutes to go and despite some great racing lines and staunch defending, Taffinder dropped back as the larger GT3 cars passed him. As the dust settled, Taffinder was sixth in class but crossed the line safely just outside the points.
Martin Plowman commented, “We had a positive weekend, Richard made a big stride forwards, and his pace is a lot closer to the pack which is really encouraging that his hard work is paying off. In race one there were no safety cars, yet he was able to stay on the lead lap and give me the car in a position that I was able to bag some points. In race two, the car was much better, and we raced our way up to second. We were desperately unlucky with the way that the safety car fell, it hurt our result, and without that, I think a podium may have been possible.”
Richard Taffinder commented, “I’m proud of my performance this weekend, I feel I have made progress and can hold my own. I have had my best qualifying session and enjoyed this weekend’s racing; the heat was hard work. However, I love a challenge, and it is excellent preparation for future endurance races. All credit to the coaching from Martin which is paying dividends.”
The team will be back in action in two weeks time as the British GT Championship heads to Silverstone, the home of British Motorsport on the 10th/11th June. With full live TV coverage available on R Sport, Sky channel 468, Freeview channel 91, Freesat channel 250 and Youview, TalkTalk and BT channel 91.