Plowman's Form Promising Despite Problems at Pau Tamworth's Martin Plowman experienced his most challenging F3 Euro Series race weekend yet on the French street circuit of Pau, on 31 May & 1 June. Evidence of the rookie's brilliance shone ...
Plowman's Form Promising Despite Problems at Pau
Tamworth's Martin Plowman experienced his most challenging F3 Euro Series race weekend yet on the French street circuit of Pau, on 31 May & 1 June. Evidence of the rookie's brilliance shone through in a storming drive from 25th to eighth in round five but his point-scoring chances were dashed when the Staffordshire star was taken out of the race, while a gearbox problem ruined his round six aspirations.
Plowman impressed from the first free practice session on Friday in his Volkswagen powered RC Motorsport car. Fifth fastest ranked him as the second-quickest rookie less than three tenths adrift from the fastest runner, Christian Vietoris (GER), with one second covering the top 20 cars. After running an encouraging 10th fastest in the second session, Plowman was eager to carry his form into qualifying and the race.
With wet qualifying, Plowman ran less than five tenths off the pace setters but the session was red-flagged. By the time it resumed his tyres were cold resulting in an excursion at Casino that called his session short, consequently dropping him down the order to 25th.
Undeterred and confident of his set-up, the 20-year-old made a lightening start from the 13th row for round five, blasting around the outside of the first corner to take six places and finish lap one 19th. Plowman's quick reaction to a second-lap incident saw him take a further six places at Pont Oscar to clinch 13th. Continuing to scythe through the pack on the notorious narrow and twisty French street circuit, Plowman was up to 10th when an incident resulted in a safety car period.
At the restart Plowman was on the tail of Sam Bird (GB) and when the fellow Brit went wide going into the first corner, Plowman seized the opportunity to close and take ninth the following lap.
Unbelievably up to eighth by lap 17, Plowman put a wheel slightly wide at Pont Oscar and Erik Janis (CZE) tried to take advantage on the exit. Despite falling back Janis stayed on the outside approaching Casino and clipped Plowman's right rear tyre at 115mph, catapulting him off the track and into the barrier at 110mph. A further incident was triggered when Bird helplessly collected Janis, forcing all three cars to retire.
The resulting safety car period and further incidents saw just 13 cars officially finish. Had Plowman not been taken out of the race, the Brit was on track to clinch his first F3 Euro Series pole position for round six on Sunday. Regardless, his storming drive from 25th to eighth certainly caught the attention of the field.
With substantial damage to the front and rear wings, both side-pods, suspension and the floor tray, the RC Motorsport/Volkswagen team worked late into the night and throughout Sunday to rebuild the car.
As round six loomed late on Sunday afternoon, the rain poured down. A wet race was declared and the 30-strong grid lined up to start behind the safety car, but Plowman began to experience gearbox problems on the formation lap.
The safety car went in on lap four leaving the field to roar away, but the gearbox problem meant Plowman had little chance of defending his 14th place. Yanking through the gears and compensating on the throttle in torrential rain, Plowman lost valuable time and began to gradually drop down the field. With less than ten minutes remaining and his situation unchanged, Plowman was forced to retire to the pits on lap 21.
Plowman commented: "A huge thanks must go to my team for completely rebuilding my car. RC Motorsport did an amazing job and without them I wouldn't have had a chance of making it out for Sunday's race. Although we've had everything thrown at us this weekend, we leave with a lot of positives. We have come a long way since the last round, and leaving Mugello I wouldn't have dreamt of running in the top five and then top ten in practice here at Pau.
"Saturday's race was fantastic and although it was cut short I can take a lot of confidence from taking 11 places on merit. We can build on this leap of progress and look forward to the next rounds at Nurnberg."