Martin Plowman insists he has 'taken away the positives' from a torrid season in the F3 Euroseries in 2008, and is now ready to 'take a leap of faith' as he bids to establish himself in America, where he will compete in the Indy Lights Series with Panther Racing this year.
Having shone in karting, Plowman enjoyed two moderately successful campaigns in Formula Renault Italia and the Formula Renault Eurocup with Prema Powerteam in 2006 and 2007, with a best finishing position of fifth in the championship. Following that, he elected to step up to the hotly-fought F3 Euroseries the following year with RC Motorsport, but to say that the season was a baptism of fire would be putting it mildly.
Finding the transition hard, the British ace failed to crack the top 20 on the starting grid until round four at the Norisring in Germany in late June, and he would not finish any higher than 17th in 14 outings. With no points to show for his efforts, he and the team parted ways three meetings before the end of the campaign – and he admits it was far from what he had been hoping for, even if there were occasional bright spots along the way.
“Going into the season we were very optimistic,” 'Plowey' told Crash.net Radio
, “but unfortunately things didn't turn out the way we wanted. Formula 3 is probably the premier junior class in the world, and it's the input between driver and team that make it what it is. That's also what makes it so tough, though.
“As always, of course, you have to take away the positive things. It was very much a learning year; it was a brand new team with a brand new engine and obviously my first year too. On the plus side, at every race we went to I was constantly learning about the car, and I do believe that I've come away from the season very much stronger as a driver. Definitely my technical ability to set up a car and understand what a car needs to go faster has improved.
“There were a couple of races where we really showed our potential, like at Pau and the Norisring, where I was running in the top eight before an unfortunate incident took us out of the race. There were times when things were looking really good.
“Obviously I found it difficult and there are many reasons for that, but as a whole I believe I've learned so many lessons. No experience is a bad experience; you can always take it to the next level and remember what didn't work, and then use that to find what does work.”
That, indeed, is precisely what Plowman intends to do in 2009, when he will be racing Stateside for the first time in his career with former two-time IRL champions Panther in the junior Lights category. Confessing to having initially had misgivings about his new challenge, he revealed that just one trip across the Pond to see for himself what it was all about was enough to convince him otherwise.
“I had the offer from Panther to join their Lights programme in IndyCar,” the 21-year-old related. “I was very reluctant at first about racing in the States not knowing what it was like, but I went over to see the last race in Chicago (in 2008) and was really blown away by the whole experience.