PLOWMAN CLOSES FORMULA RENAULT ITALIA CHAMPIONSHIP GAP WITH STUNNING FORM AT SPA Tamworth's Martin Plowman slashed the Formula Renault Italia Championship lead thanks to his stonking efforts in rounds five and six at Spa Francorchamps,...
PLOWMAN CLOSES FORMULA RENAULT ITALIA CHAMPIONSHIP GAP WITH STUNNING FORM AT SPA
Tamworth's Martin Plowman slashed the Formula Renault Italia Championship lead thanks to his stonking efforts in rounds five and six at Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, on 15 & 16 June. Plowman clinched third in round five after an astonishing drive from 11th on the grid and followed that with an awe inspiring drive from 32nd to finish 11th in round six. Plowman's performance scythed Henkie Waldschmit's (NL) lead from 50 points to 20 and leaves the British driver in a strong second place overall with seven rounds to go.
Plowman looked promising in the first session of qualifying on Friday morning and was running second quickest for the majority of the stint. Four consecutive red flags, however, considerably delayed proceedings and Plowman missed the ideal opportunity to get out on a clear track. Dropping down the timesheets, Plowman was left with just one and a half flying laps in which to improve his time but managed a credible 11th.
A dry round five on Friday afternoon and Plowman made the most of a good start and an incident between Mika Maki (FIN) and Andrea Caldarelli (I) to dive down the inside and exit La Source in seventh. Continuing his charge Plowman tailed Daniel Mancinelli (I) and Oliver Turvey (GB) through Eau Rouge and managed to take both drivers through Raidillon. By the end of a fantastic first lap, the 19-year-old British star was in fifth.
Lap two and the safety car was brought out for a lengthy period but Plowman was ready to continue where he left off and took Waldschmit at the restart for fourth. The BRDC Rising Star pulled out a comfortable margin to fifth placed Fabio Leimer (CH) and was closing on the leading trio when he began to suffer a slow puncture.
Loosing time in the final laps, Plowman managed to stave off the advances of a charging Leimer and nursed his car to the finish line in fourth. Following the race, Plowman was promoted to third after the officials gave Jamie Alguersuari (E) a 25 second penalty.
Round six on Saturday morning would see an eventful race thanks to changeable weather conditions and heavy rain. The heavens opened as Plowman waited to go to the grid and, although the downpour subsided as the five minute board was shown, the heavens opened once again as the Formula Renault Italia grid set off for the warm up lap.
With standing water on the straight and the majority of the field running on slicks, the start was not without incident. In a first corner melee, Plowman got caught up in the action, locked up and unavoidably made contact with Waldschmit, sending Plowman into a spin. Despite a damaged front wing, Plowman managed to rejoin in 32nd place with everything left to do.
Plowman wasted no time getting back on the limit and began picking his way through the field. The rain eased off on lap four, allowing Plowman to once again display his overtaking prowess and took 15 places to finish lap five in 17th. Surging on, Plowman was faced with a six-car train fighting for 11th place. Undaunted, the Tamworth teenager proceeded to take every single one within just three laps.
In a solid 11th place, Plowman pulled out a comfortable margin from 12th placed Michele Faccin (I), and was able to ease off in the closing stages as his car began to really suffer from the lack of downforce caused by the severely damaged front wing. Having taken an astonishing 21 places to fight back from 32nd, Plowman bagged a well deserved eight championship points.
Plowman commented: "It was an eventful weekend but overall really positive. It was great to get third place in round five from 11th and I thoroughly enjoyed coming back from nearly last to 11th on Saturday. We were quick from the first lap of practice. It was just unfortunate that we had a glitch in qualifying; otherwise I am confident we would have had two podium finishes here at Spa. Most importantly, I've taken a big chunk of points out of the championship lead and although the top ten points are really close, I'm in a strong position halfway through the season and I've got a fighting chance at the lead."