More points, but also more misfortune for Plowman & Smith at Snetterton
Strong pace ultimately went unrewarded for Martin Plowman & Mark Smith in the latest two rounds of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship at Snetterton last weekend (17/18 June), as a potential GT3 top-five finish slipped away. Plowman and Smith showed that they could be a force to be reckoned with early in the weekend with some eye-catching speed in practice, but their GT3 charge was stymied by bad luck in qualifying that left them recovering in the two one-hour races in Norfolk. Plowman showed the car’s pace with a strong second practice that left the car inside the top six throughout, pushing the usual championship frontrunners ahead of qualifying later that afternoon. Buoyed on, what followed would be gut-wrenching for the GT3 pairing as Smith was forced to pit during his 10-minute run for a wheel that cracked on his out lap, the team worked wonders to re-align the front corner and put their driver back into the session, albeit with half of Plowman’s new set of tyres attached, denying the Pro driver a fresh-tyre run in his own qualifying segment. Smith was blocked on his best lap as he and Plowman mustered what felt like an unrepresentative 13th and 12th in Pro-Am on the grid for Sunday’s two respective races. Attentions turned to race day where the threat of rain thankfully held off ahead of the opening one-hour contest. From 17th overall on the grid, Smith made an electric start to the race and climbed two places in the opening corners to signal his intent. With attack mode firmly engaged, further overtaking moves on John Ferguson and Mark Sansom elevated the GT3 McLaren to 11th place by the time Smith’s stint came to an end just before the halfway mark, handing over to Plowman, who gained more ground through fast work from the Paddock mechanics in the pit lane. Battling their way up the order in the closing stages, Plowman and Smith were dealt a cruel hammer blow when the crew were handed a one-second stop/go penalty for their mandatory pit stop being fractionally too short, dropping the car to 10th in Pro-Am by the chequered flag. Race two later that afternoon again required a recovery drive in GT3 with Plowman this time taking the job of starting the 720S Evo. Handing the car over to Smith inside the top 10 overall, the latter maintained a consistent pace to bring the car home ninth in Pro-Am
Martin Plowman: “I think on Sunday we maximised the result based on Saturday’s qualifying. Mark did an amazing stint in race one to put us right into contention before the unfortunate penalty in the pit stop. We had a top-six finish on the cards where we feel we’ve been on true pace. Everybody in GT3 was really close, which made it more difficult to overtake easily, so it’s a shame we didn’t have the results in qualifying to prove our pace.” Mark Smith : “It was interesting to try to learn this track in a fast car. It took a few corners to get used to how hard to actually push it, but once I got it figured out it gave me confidence to remember that technique. I dropped my times before qualifying but then we had the wheel problem and traffic, which put us back. The races showed what we were capable of, and like Plowey said we could have finished much higher in the final result.”
The British GT Championship next travels to Europe and the Portimão circuit in Portugal for a three-hour race over 22/23 July.