Sensational start for Al Harthy-Caine
Oman Racing Team drivers Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine made the perfect start to their 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship title bid with a commanding victory in the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 during the opening round of the season at Oulton Park on Monday.
Adding a competitive seventh place finish in round two later in the day, the duo also departed the Cheshire venue as the provisional championship leaders – holding a single point advantage over reigning champion Andrew Howard and his team-mate Jonny Adam.
Having qualified on pole position by a significant 0.5 second margin, Omani 32-year-old Ahmad took the opening stint for the first of the day’s two 60-minute races and didn’t put a wheel wrong through a faultless opening half-hour. As the race entered the pit-stop window phase for mandatory driver changes, Ahmad continued to increase his advantage and with 35 minutes to go he was over nine seconds to the good.
The safety car was then deployed following an incident, eroding his lead, but after pitting at the end of the subsequent lap, Caine emerged back into the race in the lead. Although his advantage was reduced to just 0.6 seconds at one stage, over the final 10 laps Caine pulled way once again to take the chequered flag by a very healthy 3.5 seconds from AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia of Pasin Lathouras and Richard Lyons. Adam-Howard finished third in the Beechdean AMR Aston Martin.
After the pir stop it was Luke Hines in the Triple Eight BMW Z4 took over second position after a strong first stint from team-mate Derek Johnston. Hines, however, would have to return to the pits for a stop and go penalty thanks to the team’s pit stop not adhering to the timing rules, and P7 was the result come the chequered flag. Aston Martin of Jake Giddings-Ross Wylie won the GT4 class.
Alexander Sims and Marco Attard claimed the win in Race 2 in the Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 whilst TF Sport took their maiden British GT victory in GT4 with Andrew Jarman and Devon Modell to cap off an impressive season opener for the Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Oulton Park.
Attard crossed the line in front of a hard-charging Jon Minshaw in the Trackspeed Porsche 997 after a seven-minute sprint to the chequered flag following the hour-long race’s second safety car period, brought about by a clash at Old Hall as the Century Motorsport Ginetta had speared into the tyres on the outside of turn one. Driver Tom Oliphant emerged unscathed. Howard-Adam took an other podium finishe and were third.
Round three of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship, the first two hour race of the season, will be held at Rockingham on 5th May.