Oman Racing Team (ORT) driver Ahmad al Harthy left the Oulton Park track in Cheshire, UK on Monday, maintaining a positive mood despite a difficult start to the 2015 British GT Championship season.
Although finishing in the points-paying top-ten during round one of the campaign, the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 racer and his teammate Daniel Lloyd were prevented from enjoying a good result after being forced to retire midway into the race.
Beginning the second of Oulton Park’s two 60-minute races from eighth on the grid, Lloyd took the first stint and although slipping to ninth, the British driver maintained the placing throughout the first 15 laps before moving into the top eight.
Following a mid-race driver change, Ahmad ventured out and instantly reeled into the competition. Running in seventh place upto the mandatory pit-stops, the Muscat-based racer closed in on Gary Eastwood’s Ferrari.
As the duo headed through on lap 26, the Ferrari suddenly braked after the exit and Ahmad had nowhere to go. Leading to contact and significant damage, retirement to the pits was inevitable.
“Everything was looking good,” Ahmad said. “I was catching up with the cars in front and our Aston was doing well. I caught up with them, but as we went through turn one, the Ferrari in front smacked on the brakes very hard after the exit. I had no time to react and the damage ended our race. There was nothing I could do.”
In the earlier race, Ahmad started off at the wheel of the No 2 Aston Martin from sixth place on the grid. After moving into the top five, Ahmad remained in sight of a podium finish as part of an eight-car train building up behind second-placed Eastwood’s Ferrari.
On lap nine, Ahmad moved into fourth place following an excursion for the McLaren of Andrew Watson and the podium edged closer for the Omani racer as he pressurised the Aston Martin of Andrew Howard. With 35 minutes of the one-hour race remaining, Ahmad took third place after a battle with Howard.
Serving his mandatory driver-change stop as soon as the pit window opened, Lloyd took over and rejoined in 16th position. The safety car headed into the pits with 15 minutes to go and when racing got back underway, Lloyd clawed his way back up the order into the top-ten to secure the duo’s first championship point of the season.
SOURCE: Muscat Daily