Alton, Virginia – September 16th, 2012 – In what has been by far the wildest American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron race of the season, Conquest Endurance finished second after a drama filled VIR 240 in which incidents, penalties, and pit issues kept the team from scoring their third victory of the year.
Team drivers David Heinemeier Hansson and Martin Plowman started from pole position in the P2 category for the third time this, year with Heinemeier Hansson behind the wheel of the #37 Conquest machine at the drop of the green flag. The Danish driver managed to avoid a first lap pile-up at Turn-1 and began to pull out a healthy lead over the competition.
After 30min he had an off-track excursion but managed to keep the car under control and got back on track in third place. With the help of a full-course caution he regained the gap to the leaders and after the restart it took him only three laps to pass both Level 5 cars to take over the lead once again.
“DHH” then found himself once again in the same situation as he did at Baltimore where he was stuck behind a much slower P1 car that was slow on the corners but quick on the straights, which made it very difficult to pass with the P2 machine.
Heinemeier Hansson eventually passed it and only a couple of laps before his schedule pit stop he reported that he had a flat left-front tire and had to crawl back to the pits, once again loosing the time and positions gained before.
Plowman got in the car with 2h9min remaining in the race and started chasing down the leaders. During the next hour he cut down the gap and once the pit rotations were done he came out ahead and had the #37 Morgan-Nissan as the P2 class leader again.
At the 3h3min mark the race got turned around once again when Plowman received a “Stop & Go plus 60 seconds” penalty for avoidable contact after he had an incident with a GT car on the front straight. After serving his penalty he came out in third but still in contention as the other P2 competitors were also involved in several incidents that caused them to also get penalties.
Misfortune struck once more as the Conquest car came into the pits for its last pit stop of the day when a miscommunication led to Plowman overshooting his pit stall, forcing the crew to push him back and lose valuable time.
Despite the problem Plowman put on a monumental last stint and greatly reduced the gap to the leaders, eventually recovering second place with only two laps to go and setting the fastest lap in class with a time of 1m39.393s.
The Conquest Endurance team now focuses on the last event of the year. Petit Le Mans will take place October 20th at the famed Road Atlanta circuit, the 10-hour or 1,000-mile race has always been an action-packed event as well and Conquest will look to finish out the year on a high-note with a win.
The team is also still in contention for the championship 18 points behind the leaders, with 24 points offered for a win at Petit Le Mans.
David Heinemeier Hansson - Driver, #37 Conquest Endurance / Morgan / Nissan Dunlop: “We had more action in a four-hour race than most 24-hour races. It was just such a rollercoaster ride, we were doing great at the start then I had a monumental expedition into the grass and then we caught right back up because we had a yellow so we were right there behind them.
Then we get the lead back and we are putting good distance to second place and then I get tangled up with those slow P1 cars again which unfortunately caused a bit of contact which was probably what eventually caused the puncture.
We brought it back in and went back out and from then on unfortunately the list of mistakes that we kept inflicting upon ourselves is unfortunately very long. The good thing is that we were certainly not along in making mistakes but that’s still not good enough, we just need to do better.”
Martin Plowman - Driver, #37 Conquest Endurance / Morgan / Nissan Dunlop: “It’s really hard to try to summarize what happened today, there were so many emotions, so many turns of good luck and then so many turns of bad luck, it was just crazy. David had a puncture that really costs us, then we had an issue in the pit stop where I missed the pit board which made us lose time as well.
There were so many things that were good and bad but we worked really hard in the last stint, we reduced a 60 second lead to 28 and passed for second place so to be able to do that against top drivers like Bouchut and Diaz is very good. Its just a shame that we had all these problems because we probably should’ve won, but its racing.”
Eric Bachelart - Team Principal, Conquest Endurance: “Today we missed a good opportunity to win the race. It was a crazy day all around, there were too many contacts between cars out there and we ended up penalties because of it. A lot of things were wrong today, the car is competitive and we set the quickest lap of the race so that is good news.
But we just made too many mistakes and it cost us the win. We are not happy about it so we are going to debrief and we’ll be better at the next race.”
Source: Conquest Endurance