Heartbreaking runner-up finish for Conquest Endurance at Petit Le Mans

Braselton, Georgia – Conquest Endurance had an unforgettable season finale at the Petit Le Mans this weekend where the team became the protagonist in what looked like a dominant victory until disaster struck with only a handful of laps left in the 1000-mile long endurance event. As the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron closed out its 2012 season, Martin Plowman and David Heinemeier Hansson came into the weekend with a mathematical chance to capture the P2 championship, and with every intention to conclude their stellar rookie season with a third victory. They were joined at this endurance event by third driver Eric Lux, who made his debut in the P2 category this weekend.

#37 Conquest Endurance Morgan Nissan: Martin Plowman, David Heinemeier Hansson, Eric Lux
#37 Conquest Endurance Morgan Nissan: Martin Plowman, David Heinemeier Hansson, Eric Lux

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

After Plowman narrowly missed the pole position on Friday by a mere .002s, Heinemeier Hansson started the historic endurance race in the second position. The Danish driver, who had an impressive showing, immediately started a fierce battle for the lead which would last for most of his first two stints. He handed the car over to Lux after 2h13min while leading the P2 category. Lux had a strong run and held on to the second position until handing the car over to Plowman 3h45min into the race. Plowman took the lead on lap 240 and began to pull a strong gap on second place until he handed the car back to Heinemeier Hansson after 6h21min.

In a confusing situation that involved the #055 car of Level 5 passing Heinemeier Hansson under yellow, and the #37 Conquest machine being scored in second place, the Conquest crew had to patiently wait for the officials to resolve the situation. Even before the ruling was handed down Heinemeier Hansson had already regained the lead and was once again pulling a gap on second place. By the time Plowman was back in the car for his last two stints of the race things were looking very positive as the Conquest car was leading by a large margin.

The heartbreak of the day came when the British driver reported that he had a flat tire with only a handful of laps to go, forcing him to pit, and eventually leading to a pit speed violation penalty which cost the team enough time to lose the lead. For the last 15 minutes of the race Plowman drove like a mad man to try and make up the lost ground, but despite reducing the gap significantly he ran out of time and when the checkered flew after 391 laps the #37 Conquest machine crossed the finish line in second position only 8.2 seconds behind the leader.

Conquest Endurance had a breakthrough rookie season in the ALMS in which the #37 Morgan-Nissan car immediately became a race and championship contender. The team captured three pole positions (Mosport, Road America, VIR) and two wins (Mosport, Road America) throughout the year and was a contender for the P2 title up until the last couple of hours of the last race of the season.

After post race review the #37 car was eventually excluded from the race per Article 21.2 of event the supplementary regulations (exceeded maximum driving time), which meant that Plowman drove seven minutes more than he was allowed to by the regulations.

Martin Plowman Driver #37 Conquest Endurance / Morgan / Nissan Dunlop “We experienced every single emotion possible here, to come so close to a win and to lose it right at the end is heartbreaking. I’m very proud of the team, they did a great job all day. We proved our speed and the end result shows how strong this year has been with both Level 5 and us finishing 1-2 beating out some of the best drivers and teams from all over the world. It’s just a huge credit to the level that we have been competing with this year. It sucks to end the season this way but it is what it is.”

David Heinemeier Hansson Driver #37 Conquest Endurance / Morgan / Nissan Dunlop “It’s hard to describe what it feels like to be so close to a win this big and to have it go away right at the end like we did. It’s definitely a tough pill to swallow but we also have to be happy with how strong we were and with the fact that we had the upper hand against all these top P2 teams. It would’ve been great to end the season with that win but you don’t always get what you want. I’m very happy with our pace and our performance this weekend, even though we don’t have the trophy we can all be proud of what we did here this weekend.”

Eric Lux Driver #37 Conquest Endurance / Morgan / Nissan Dunlop “First of all I have to thank Eric Bachelart and Thierry Bouvet for giving me this opportunity and for giving me a terrific car all weekend, and also a thank you for David and Martin for having the faith in me to be their third wheel at this event. I know they are a little bummed out that we didn’t get to win the championship but that was a bit out our hands, but we sure wanted that win and we had it with a lap up on P2 with only a few minutes to go. So its great to be up on the podium here but this one was kind of robbed from us so I’m really looking forward to doing it again next year. I just can’t say enough about the team and my teammates at this race.”

Source: Conqest Endurance

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Eric Gilbert , Eric Lux , Martin Plowman , David Heinemeier Hansson
Article type Race report
Tags conquest, heinemeier hansson, lux, morgan, nissan, petit le mans, plowman, road atlanta