Motorbase takes stunning victory in British GT opener
Motorbase Performance started the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship in perfect style at Oulton Park over the Easter weekend (19/21 April) with a resounding victory in round one for the Oman Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine.
Al Harthy and Caine then added seventh place in the second race, which was interrupted by a safety car period, while new pairing Rory Butcher and John Hartshorne showed tremendous pace as Butcher fought for a place on the podium. Ultimately, thirteenth place was their best result in the capacity British GT field.
Al Harthy started the weekend superbly by taking pole for round one, half a second clear of the rest of the field. Hartshorne, meanwhile, put the #5 Vantage into twentieth place.
Ahmad took the opening stint for the first of two 60-minute races and drove a faultless race to be nine seconds clear when he handed the car over to Caine. Another slick pit-stop put Michael out still in the lead and he managed the closing stages perfectly to cement a maiden victory for the Oman Racing Team. Meanwhile, Hartshorne and Butcher were thirteenth after an attacking stint from the young Scot.
The second race was hit by two safety car periods but Al Harthy and Caine had another very strong run to end the race in seventh and take an early lead in the overall championship contest. Meanwhile, Butcher ran as high as fourth in the other car early on before Hartshorne took the flag in an eventual fifteenth place.
The win kicks off Motorbase Performance’s 2014 championship challenge in perfect form and the Oman Racing Team now look forward to a short break before The Avon Tyres British GT Championship reconvenes with a two-hour race at Rockingham on 4/5 May.
Motorbase Performance and Oman Racing Team Principal David Bartrum said:
“It was an amazing weekend and a great start to our British GT campaign. It was a fitting result for the Oman Racing Team and a first win for a team running with an entrant’s licence from the Oman Automobile Association. To come out of the first weekend leading the championship, albeit by only one point, is a great feeling.”
Oman Racing Team driver Ahmad Al Harthy said:
“It was a perfect start and I made a nice gap between me and the other cars. It was a matter of putting my head down and carrying on. I gave the car to Michael with a healthy lead. Unfortunately the safety car came out and our lead was really reduced. Luckily we stayed in front and obviously for the last 25 minutes watching Michael was very stressful, but there’s no one better you’d want in the car. You know his consistency is strong and he is reliable.
“The team did a great job everywhere. We’re happy with the car, we’re happy with the team and it is a team win.”
Oman Racing Team driver Rory Butcher said:
“It was a great weekend and it is a very competitive championship. The car was performing so well and we were P2 in both free practice sessions. John qualified 20th for race one and I got P8 for race two, but I was a bit disappointed with that as I felt we had the pace to be top four.
“In race one, John held position and then I made up seven places and got fastest lap, so that was a strong performance. In race two, I got up to fourth and had a good battle for third before the stop. I think I could have been catching the leaders. We lost a bit in the pit stop with the safety car and then John brought it home 15th.”