Martin Plowman heads into this weekend’s Total 24 Hours of Spa as the endurance veteran among his MRS GT Racing teammates, as the former Le Mans class winner continues his successful transition to GT racing.
The 27-year-old Englishman takes on his first season in the Blancpain Endurance Series, sharing the wheel of a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 with Craig Dolby and Sean Walkinshaw, who both make their 24-hour race debuts.
While all three drivers are rookies to the Belgian endurance classic, Plowman carries the experience, and past success, of two other world-class enduros, including his Le Mans LMP2 class victory in 2013.
“I’m really excited,” Plowman told Sportscar365. “This will be my third 24-hour race. It’s a completely new event for me, after doing Le Mans and Daytona.
“I’m really excited to see what the 24 Hours of Spa is all about. From what I’ve seen, it’s one of the biggest GT races in the world.
“You look at the entry list and you see how deep the level of talent is. Just to try to get a good result and focus on the win here would be amazing.”
Despite being known for his success in the open-wheel and prototype ranks, Plowman has quickly acclimated to GT3 racing, having been brought on board as a JRM Group-contracted driver for this year.
“The biggest transition for me was just getting used to the GT car,” he said. “It’s the first time I ever had a car with a roof on my head so I’ve been adapting my driving style with the turbo and the heavier car with less downforce.
“But I’ve got good teammates around me with quite a bit of GT experience. It didn’t take me too long to adapt.
“Obviously these races are so competitive that if you miss the setup by a little bit and you’re off the pace by two-tenths, that’s the difference between being first or 30th sometimes.
“Every weekend you have to bring your A game and be 100 percent on it all the time.”
Three races into the Blancpain Endurance Series season, Plowman has been surprised by the high level of competition, which has regularly seen 60-plus entries and nearly half of them with all-pro lineups.
“It’s a very incredibly tough series,” he said. “It’s probably underrated how difficult this championship is.
“It’s a really deep Pro Cup grid with 25 cars. But there’s a half a dozen Pro-Am Cup cars that mix it up, there are a few Am drivers who are one day going to be Pros themselves.
“There’s up to 36 or 37 cars in any given that can win a race.”
While looking to rebound from a disappointing outing in last month’s Paul Ricard 1000km, which saw his Nissan suffer a turbo leak and crankshaft sensor failure, Plowman is hopeful to help fly the flag for the Japanese manufacturer in Spa.
“We definitely have our sights set on the podium,” he said. “It’s obviously going to be very tough. We have to make sure we get the most out of the car and ourselves.
“I think a top-10 would be a very solid weekend and would be a decent result for the team and where we are with the development of the car and it being our first year.
“We are setting our sights really high just because we know what we can do as a team and what the car can do as well.
“I think with most races we have to go about the mentality that it’s more about survival. These kind of races, if you stay out of trouble, the car’s reliable and you run consistent laps, you will have a good run.
“We’re all focused on not getting into any crashes and preserving our car and our race. Hopefully we’ll be there with one hour to go and fighting for a podium.”
The Indianapolis-based Brit, meanwhile, is hopeful of expanding his GT activities to America next year, potentially with his newly forged link with JRM and Nissan.
“This is a new venture for me and a budding relationship with Nissan,” Plowman said. “I hope that if I can continue to impress them this year there will be more opportunities down the road. Who knows where it could go.”