Phoenix: Marcus Motorsports race report

Marcus Motorsports fifth at Phoenix. Richmond, Va. (May 5, 2003) - From a seasons-best third qualifying position Marcus Motorsports had to settle for a fifth place GT finish in Saturday's Rolex Sports Car Series AJ's Fine Foods 250 at ...

Marcus Motorsports fifth at Phoenix.

Richmond, Va. (May 5, 2003) - From a seasons-best third qualifying position Marcus Motorsports had to settle for a fifth place GT finish in Saturday's Rolex Sports Car Series AJ's Fine Foods 250 at Phoenix International Raceway in Phoenix, Ariz. Completing 144 laps around the 1.51-mile road course the No. 69 BMW M3 of Hugh Plumb, of Chadds Ford, Pa., and Brian Cunningham, of Lexington, Ky., finished seven laps down to the class winning Ferrari as suspected electrical problems spoiled what started out to be a very good weekend.

Thinking the same vapor lock problem that plagued the team at Miami had begun to show up one hour into the race Hugh Plumb was forced from his third place position to the pits on lap 55. The M3 stalled in the pit box and Plumb lost five laps as the crew tried to re-fire the car. Finally restarted, Plumb rejoined the race; the team hoping that taking careful advantage of a future caution period would allow them to move the No. 69 M3 back to the front of the field.

"This problem was certainly unexpected," said Plumb. "I was closing in on second place and up to that point the M3 was running strongly. There are things we need to look at during the upcoming test and I'm sure we can resolve the problem and be ready for the next race."

Cunningham entered the car on lap 101 after a green-flag stop for fuel and tires, the team unable to take advantage of the race's few yellow flags. Setting the team's fastest race lap on the 138th lap Cunningham drove a strong second-stint, but could not make up the deficit.

"It was an outstanding effort by the team and especially Hugh, who drove nearly two hours," said Cunningham. "We worked to the very end and driving our fastest lap of the race only six laps from the end proves the desire of Marcus Motorsports to win and the determination to never give up."

"We were working toward a much better finish, but we ran into problems again," said team owner, Stephen Marcus. "It seemed more like twenty laps instead of five trying to get the car restarted and if the yellow flags later in the race had fallen in our favor we may have been able to move up higher than fifth. On the positive side, hard work and smart driving kept us in the race and we did finish. In fact, we have finished every race this season."

The two weeks to the next race will be quite busy with a scheduled test at Summit Point Raceway, in Summit Point, W.Va., on May 7. Joining Plumb for the test and his first time in the M3 will be Gareth Rees. Rees, the 1990 McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year and 1996 British Formula 2/Formula 3000 Champion, will be driving with Plumb and Cunningham at the June 22 Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

The fourth round Barber 250 at The Park is scheduled for May 18 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Al. This is the first visit for the Rolex Sports Car Series to the new 2.3-mile, 16-turn permanent road course.

More information can be found at www.marcusmotorspots.com and www.grandamerican.com.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Brian Cunningham , Hugh Plumb