PLOWMAN RETURNS TO RACE ON HOME SOIL Britain's Martin Plowman returned to the UK to race on home soil for the first time in four years for rounds nine and 10 of the European Formula Renault 2.0 series on 9-10 September...
PLOWMAN RETURNS TO RACE ON HOME SOIL
Britain's Martin Plowman returned to the UK to race on home soil for the first time in four years for rounds nine and 10 of the European Formula Renault 2.0 series on 9-10 September 2006. It was therefore apt that the Staffordshire teenager undertook his first single seater race in the UK at his home circuit, Donington Park, despite racing on the Derbyshire circuit for the first time. The prestigious World Series by Renault meeting brought mixed fortunes for Plowman, who notched up 16th and 11th place finishes.
Qualifying early on Saturday morning in glorious sunshine saw Plowman produce grid positions of 13th and 11th for the respective races. These positions however didn't fully reflect Plowman's potential due to a mistake at the Old Hairpin, which prevented him from improving his times in the final stages of the session.
Plowman nailed his first ever Donington Formula Renault start to head in to Redgate corner one place up to 14th and took two further places, including fellow British driver Oliver Oakes, through Crainer Curves and the Old Hairpin to finish lap one in 12th. Up to 11th by lap three, Plowman then set about latching onto the back of the battle for top ten championship points with Pablo Sanchez (MEX) and Walter Grubmuller (AUT).
The Prema Powerteam driver quickly closed the gap to Sanchez down to under five tenths of a second by lap eight, whilst Plowman was under pressure from John Michael Edwards (USA). Edwards was the first to make his move down the outside of the Fogarty Esses and although Plowman defended well he ran too deep and had to abort the chicane, loosing him five places in the closely-knit field.
Plowman's rapid reactions saved him from the gravel trap but the car sustained damage to the rear splitter and parts of the rear wing and suspension, which would affect the handling of the car for the remainder of the race. A valiant effort saw Plowman adjust his driving and make up for lost time. Despite making steady progress on 15th-placed Claudio Cantelli (BRA), with only a handful of laps remaining Plowman was unable to improve track position and finished 16th.
The Prema Powerteam worked hard to replace the diffuser and rear splitter in time for round 10 on Sunday. Plowman made another lightening start from 11th place, taking one place off the line and challenging Federico Muggia (ITA) down the inside of Redgate, only for Muggia to re-take the position going down to the Old Hairpin. Remaining glued to Muggia's rear wing, Plowman slipped down the inside of the Melbourne Hairpin to finish lap one in ninth.
Tailing Sebastien Buemi (SUI), Plowman was also under pressure from Edwards on lap two. Edwards tried to make a move around the outside at McLeans, but Plowman defended well, breaking later than Edwards, and the pair slid-out wide. Avoiding contact, Plowman took to the grass but lost one place to fellow Prema Powerteam driver Edoardo Mortara (ITA).
Although Plowman lost time to Buemi and Mortara, he opened up a comfortable margin to 11th place and drove a consistent race throughout. Plowman's 10th position, however, came under threat in the closing stages of the 18-lap race, with Dani Clos (ESP) coming through from the back of the field. Despite fending off Clos' advances throughout the penultimate lap, the pair ran wheel to wheel out of McLeans but Clos took the place going into Coppice, with Plowman narrowly missing out on a championship point.
Plowman commented: "It's been great to return to race in the UK after such a long absence. Overall it was a positive weekend but it was a shame we suffered damage from the first race on Saturday. We had a good set up until that point, and I felt confident we could challenge for top ten positions, but the handling just didn't feel the same afterwards.
"The team did a great job repairing the car for Sunday and we were able to once again challenge for top ten positions. Although we didn't have the pace to challenge higher, I got the maximum performance from the car in the circumstances and just missed out on some championship points."
-credit: Emma Spearing