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Challenging weekend for Smith & Plowman at British GT Opening round

The GT3 crew of Mark Smith and Martin Plowman showed flashes of great pace, and finished what turned out to be a truncated opening race with a well-deserved top-10 finish in the first round of the British GT Championship at Oulton Park.,


Mark Smith & Martin Plowman put in a fighting display in extremely tricky conditions that made the first race almost more about survival than progress. The grid formed up under persistent rain, with all cars on wet-weather Pirellis and the prospect of thick spray reducing visibility to a few metres at best.


Smith was disappointed in his first qualifying of the year, starting the GT3 Evo from 13th in the monster field after not quite hooking up an ideal lap


The race began behind the safety car in the worst of the conditions, before releasing the cars in anger a few minutes later. Smith immediately looked to move forward, picking up a place when the J&S Racing Audi swapped ends through turn one. Smith then began to pressure the RAM Racing BMW M4GT3, but was caught out when the M4 braked early into Hislops, forcing Smith to jump on the brakes and narrowly avoid the rear of the BMW as he skated down the escape road. With grass in the radiators from the incident, rising temperatures prevented Smith from making progress, as did a lengthy full course yellow period called to recover a stranded GT4 car. He eventually handed across to Plowman, but with the tyres lacking bite and racing action limited over the closing laps, a safe 12th was the limit for the pair.


Race two would provide a different challenge, and also a highly frustrating finish. Plowman excelled in his qualifying segment, putting the #9 McLaren GT3 Evo a fine sixth on the grid. However, this early promise was tempered when Plowman was elbowed wide through the first turn, dropping a wheel of the sodden grass and losing momentum. That meant he was swamped down to 12th on the first lap, and had all the hard work to do over again. But in truth he never got the chance, as racing was neutralised first thanks to a multi-car tangle in the GT4 pack, and then again for virtually the entire second half of the race following barrier damage inflicted by a wayward Aston Martin GT3 and then a rival McLaren breaking down on track. It meant neither Plowman nor Smith really got a chance to get into the fight their qualifying pace had deserved, and eighth in class was all they could do.


The next round of the British GT Championship is at Silverstone on April 27 & 28



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