Top Ten Finish for Smith & Plowman after Heroic Effort from Team
The team were tested to the limit when the McLaren 720S GT3 Evo of Mark Smith and Martin Plowman was cruelly put into the wall at the end of qualifying on Saturday, a hit that inflicted terminal chassis damage. After sourcing a spare chassis from the Enduro Motorsport team, Paddock’s crew pulled an all-nighter to prepare an all-new car for Sunday, and Smith and Plowman rewarded them with a fighting performance.
Qualifying spelled disaster for the GT3 crew. Smith took the wheel for the first segment and was flying in the drying conditions, holding a spot inside the top six and on a significantly faster lap when a wild slide from a Race Lab McLaren sideswiped Smith as he exited the final corner, putting the McLaren nose-first into the concrete wall. Smith emerged with no injuries, but the car was done. Cue the Herculean effort from the team, who worked until 5am to get the carbon black second car ready for action. Sunday would prove far more fruitful, Smith and Plowman lined up at the back of the GT3 field and Smith was forced to play things safe early on while a replacement power steering system was bedded in. Despite the limitation, Smith kept things clean and worked his way up to 11th by the time the pit window opened. With the second of three safety car periods coming right as the pit window opened, Smith stayed out an extra lap to avoid the crowded pitlane and it paid off handsomely when he and Plowman enjoyed a flawless change in a quieter pitlane, with Plowman vaulting up the order to sixth in the process. The hastily-prepared car did have some limitations, such as increased rear tyre temperatures, but Plowman fought hard against Aston Martin and McLaren factory drivers Ross Gunn and Marvin Kirchhoefer, before eventually taking ninth at the flag. The results made it a strong finish to the 2023 British GT season. Mark Smith said: “It’s been a really challenging weekend, but to be able to get back into the race and then enjoy a competitive run really is testament to how hard the Paddock guys worked. I had to be pretty careful at the start as we had to change the power steering pump and bleed the system after Warm-Up, so we were really still testing at the start of the race, but once things calmed down I got into some good fun fights and moved myself forward before Plowey took over. The pace was really high, so to take a top-10 after all we’ve been through is a great result. Now we’ve got time to reset over the winter, and come back stronger.” Martin Plowman said: “I’m really happy with how the race went and super proud of our team and what they achieved this weekend. The car felt great right out of the box, which is amazing when you consider the amount of work that went into it in such a short time. We did perhaps cook our rear tyres, and were chasing the balance a bit, but overall we got to enjoy a great race today and brought home a strong result for the team. Paddock Motorsport now enters the winter season, with all eyes set on returning to the British GT Championship in 2024.
The team’s efforts also led to Paddock being named as British GT’s Team of the Weekend for the second time this season.