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PLOWMAN: Shanghai Debrief

LMP2 points leader Martin Plowman files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

Shanghai was the penultimate race of the FIA World Endurance Championship and was a very pivotal point in the season.

I knew going into the weekend that it would be unlikely for my team to be able to win the championship there, but it would have been very easy to see our championship fight go up in smoke.

It was my very first time in China.

Upon arrival the very first thing that hit me was how bad the pollution was in Shanghai. It was instantly more difficult to breathe the second you stepped off of the airplane. You could see heavy smog on the sky line, and it was hard to see the tops of the enormous sky-scrapers of downtown Shanghai!

The Shanghai International Circuit was an impressive venue. The grandstands on the pit-straight dwarfed the garages and amplified the noise of the engines of the cars passing by.

The Corvette and especially the Ferraris were extra-ear piercing this weekend. I’m pretty sure my ears are still bleeding even now.

The track was the one of the most unusual I have driven on simply because of the never ending Turn 1. I don’t know exactly how many degrees the corner is but it feels like you are going around in a complete circle. It’s definitely a front tire-destroying kind of corner.

Tire degradation was the main talking point this weekend. The tires struggled to last an entire stint, the grip level was very low this weekend, and it almost felt like driving in wet conditions.

The problem was nothing to do with our Dunlop tires, but due to the track conditions as every tire manufacturer and every other class seemed to experience the same problems.

My team struggled all weekend to try to find the best solution to overcome the lack of grip, but we found ourselves taking a gamble on a setup for the race, as we couldn’t get our car dialed in. It would become apparent that we were going to have to roll our sleeves up this weekend!

To come away from the weekend on the podium was a massively important result for us, even if we were less than satisfied about our race.

We race to win of course, but for the championship picture this result puts us in a strong position heading into the final race of the season.

Our nearest points rival experienced a heart-breaking electrical failure which ended their championship run, leaving it a three-way fight for the championship in Bahrain.

I really hope that in three weekend’s time we can look back at how important this weekend was.

Sometimes during a championship run, you have some great races and you have some bad ones, but the guys who usually win a championship are those who get the very best out of the bad days.

We had a 5th place car at best and escaped out of China with a podium!

Now is the time we need to double-down on our effort and preparation, leave nothing to chance and just hope that fate is on our side when the curtain closes on this year’s World Championship in three weekend’s time.

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