Lights Oval Test
Britain’s Martin Plowman effortlessly mastered his first run in an open-wheel car on an oval circuit, on Wednesday 29 October, and also passed his Indy Lights Rookie test. Plowman conducted his second test with the Panther Racing team at the Homestead-Miami Speedway where his lap time of 28.6 seconds was quick enough to secure a front row start at the Indy Lights Homestead round earlier this year.
Graduating from the ranks of the Formula 3 Euro Series, Plowman impressed his new team in the United States during his first Indy Lights test earlier this month at the Sebring International Raceway before facing the challenge of turning laps for the first time on an oval at Homestead.
A highly technical driver, Plowman prepared for his first oval run by pouring over in-car camera footage, meticulously studying car positioning and lines. After a sensible installation period, the Brit began to run flat-out and get a feel for how the Panther Racing Dallara performs at 190mph. Astonishingly it was during only his second 10-lap session that Plowman posted a string of impressive lap times in the range of 28.6 seconds.
The Panther Racing team took the Indy Lights rookie through a programme of changes, to help him get a feel of how the various alterations affected the car’s balance. Plowman and teammate Pippa Mann also worked together to give each other a flavour of what it’s like to run in traffic around the oval.
Ron Catt, Panther Racing Team Manager, commented: “For someone who has never run on an oval before, Martin did remarkably well. I was really pleased with how he approached the test at Homestead and he continues to impress the team. He was naturally a little nervous at first but he quickly settled in and was right on it, we just needed to keep the car under harness and even slow him down a bit. As we went through our set-up changes, it was really good to see the level of feedback from Martin, which is exactly what we needed to hear. To set a time equal to our second-place qualifying position at Homestead earlier this year during his second run was amazing. With that in mind I think Martin will do all right this coming season, he definitely gets an A+ for his first oval test.”
Plowman was delighted to complete over 280 laps of the challenging 1.485-mile track and commented: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the test here at Homestead and it was a thrill to turn my first laps on an oval. Once again, the Panther Racing team has done a fantastic job to make me feel at ease very quickly. I had quite specific goals in mind approaching this test, to run flat-out as quickly as possible and I managed to do that within seven laps so I am pretty pleased. As I started to run flat out, it really was an attack on my senses. Everything was happening so fast and my vision started to blur, but I soon got the hang of adjusting my point of focus while never dropping below 185mph.
“Overall I think that it was a very positive and successful introduction to oval racing and I’ve proved to the team that I can adapt quickly to that style of driving. I’ve already learned that it’s essential to be super smooth out there. Once you are comfortable running flat out it’s crucial to work with the engineers and clearly communicate how the car is running. The only way you can run faster is with the team’s set-up expertise and the driver’s feedback, so we’ll be working hard on that. With my first oval run complete, I’m now looking forward to testing at Houston in November.”