Oman Racing Team takes hard fought points at Silverstone 500

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The Oman Racing team maintained its 100% points scoring record in the 2015 Avon Tyres British GT Championship during Sunday’s three hour Silverstone 500 event (May 30/31), taking fourth and sixth place finishes on the iconic British circuit. 
The Motorbase-run outfit narrowly missed out on another podium finish in tricky conditions after a late safety car appearance denied the #2 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 of Lloyd and Al Harthy a chance of claiming the third spot.
Following a promising early morning practice session, Saturday’s qualifying sessions saw the Oman Racing Team lock out the third row with the #2 and #6 Vantage’s securing P5 and P6 starts respectively. Al Harthy and Griffin took the opening stints with Al Harthy quickly making light work of the competition in challenging wet conditions to move up into second in the opening laps.
An early safety car appearance forced a strategic pit-stop for both Oman Racing Team cars and the crew performed a slick job once more to get Lloyd back out quickly with the Yorkshireman settling into third.
The race progressed well for duo with Al Harthy and Lloyd managing to maintain their position with a comfortable gap before a late safety car appearance with just over 30 minutes remaining on the clock. Despite Lloyd’s best efforts, with an imposed 70kg weight penalty on-board the #2 Vantage, the 23 year old was unable to hold off Sims’ lighter and faster BMW and dropped back to 4th. 
Meanwhile the #6 Oman Racing Team Vantage GT3 was engaged in its own battle. Despite running as high as third during the race, both Griffin and Butcher fought hard to hold off challenges from the Von Ryan McLaren and Beechdean Aston Martin before ultimately holding onto their starting position to cross the line in sixth place.

“Qualifying was probably a bit under expectation this weekend, but still not bad;” said Team Principal David Bartrum. “It was difficult race with changing weather so the pit stop calls were all last minute and the team reacted very well. It wasn’t the optimum weekend we would have liked but we scored some decent points and we’re still in the battle for the championship with four rounds to go. We also still lead the teams’ championship so that shows that we’re working well as a team.”
“Right up to the point of the last safety car we were on for a possible third and fourth finish. Unfortunately for us the late safety car allowed quicker drivers to catch up on the gap that we’d managed to build;” Bartrum added.
“Obviously with the additional weight that Dan and Ahmad are carrying they didn’t have a chance against the lighter BMW with a very fast Alexander Sims behind them and that cost us the podium ultimately.”

The Oman Racing Team still tops the Teams’ Championship standings with a comfortable 40.5 point lead. Butcher and Griffin maintain their second place position in the overall standings; while the weekends’ results see Lloyd and Al Harthy move up into fifth whilst extending their lead in the Silver Cup class.
The Avon Tyres British GT Championship now has a six week break before reconvening in Belgium for the only overseas event of the season at Spa-Francorchamps on July 10/11. The Oman Racing Team however will be back in action with Jonny Adam, Dan Lloyd and Ahmad Al Harthy for round three of Blancpain Endurance Series which takes place on June 19/20 at Paul Ricard in France.

Driver quotes:
Ahmad Al Harthy:
“I was really happy with the way we raced, we’ve improved a lot and we were so close to a podium finish this weekend. The safety car late on just bunched everyone up and we didn’t have the pace at that point to hold on to third place unfortunately. Fourth position, though, gives us good points for the championship and very good points for the team as well.”
“The team did an incredible job with the car again this weekend and with the strategy too. The car was very well set-up for both conditions and I was very happy with my pace overall, in the wet the pace was amazing and I really enjoyed it. Going into the next round at Spa we’re feeling very positive as we’ve been competitive again this weekend, we’re really looking forward to that.”
Rory Butcher:
“It was a challenging weekend and one which didn't seem to go our way. We aimed for a podium finish and walked away with a 6th place so we are disappointed. However every team has its good and bad weekends. We still have 4 events to go and we are still very much in the championship fight!”

Source material - Oman Racing (Motorbase)
Photo Credits - Richard Leach / PSP Motorsort Images
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