Drivers Martin Plowman and David Heinemeier Hansson came into the race weekend with high hopes of scoring back-to-back victories and closing the gap to the championship leaders with their Morgan-Nissan machine after dominating at Road America. Heinemeier Hansson lined up second in the P2 class for the start of the race and after only eight laps he took over the lead and began to open up an impressive gap over second place. After 40 minutes of racing the Danish driver had already expanded his lead to over 30 seconds but then began to be held up by a much slower P1 car. After a couple of laps he made a successful pass coming into the last corner and got around the slower car. To the team’s surprise race control applied a harsh penalty to the #37 Conquest machine and forced them to serve a sixty second stop-and-go penalty which dropped them to third position in class.
For the rest of his stint Heinemeier Hansson focused on climbing back through the field and with 47 minutes to go in the two-hour race he handed the car over to Plowman. The British driver continued closing the gap to the leaders and with less then 30 minutes to go a full course caution placed him within striking distance of the two Level 5 Motorsports cars. As the race went back to green Plowman began his attack on the leaders but he was never able to fight with them as his car had a suspension failure due to the bumpiness of the Baltimore street circuit with only 14 minutes left in the race. After the failure the Conquest machine was sidelined and was scored third in class, marking the first time that the team has finished outside the top-two since the opening race of the season.
Despite loosing ground to the leaders in the championship hunt, the Conquest drivers are still well within striking distance with two endurance races remaining in the 2012 ALMS season.
Martin Plowman Driver #37 Conquest Endurance / Morgan / Nissan Dunlop “It’s a heartbreaking weekend. We had a quick car and should’ve been even quicker but we were fighting with issues that were keeping us from showing our full potential. We had a great start but then got the penalty, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with David’s move but it is what it is.
After getting in the car I was pushing very hard and on the last restart I was trying my best to close the gap so I could fight with the Level 5 guys but unfortunately we had a major suspension failure. It was pretty scary going into turn 3 and all of a sudden my front right wheel was off the ground and I was headed straight for the wall but luckily I managed to save it. I tried to make it back to the pits but the wheel was grinding so hard that it eventually stopped the engine. It was just a tough day for all of us.”
David Heinemeier Hansson Driver #37 Conquest Endurance / Morgan / Nissan Dunlop “I definitely don’t agree with the ruling of the officials, not only do I feel that I tried everything to make that a clean pass, but also the cars got through with no damage and both of us continued with no problems at all. So to get a stop and go plus 60 seconds for something like that when we had had such a great start and had pulled such a large lead is incredibly frustrating. In the end we had other problems so maybe it wouldn’t have mattered, but its still a tough pill to swallow. It was a very difficult day.”
Eric Bachelart Team Principal Conquest Endurance “We came here with a lot of confidence that we could take our third win but we definitely didn’t have the day we were looking for. We had a competitive car and David did a very good job building a good lead on our competitors at the beginning of the race. Unfortunately the stop and go penalty was very severe and that cost us our lead. We managed to get very close after a yellow and were looking to have a tight finish but unfortunately we had a suspension failure caused by the roughness of the racetrack that stopped our efforts.
We will certainly not give up and we are going to push very hard to win the next two races and finish the season on a high note. Once again our drivers and the whole crew did a really good job all weekend long. We have good chemistry in this team and I’m confident that we’ll be very strong in the next events.”
Source: Conquest Endurance