Oman Racing Team battles back at Spa

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Oman Racing Team battled back from a challenging start to round 5 of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Spa-Francorchamps to claim a top 4 finish during Saturday’s two hour race (July 11).

Expectations were high heading into only overseas race on the British GT calendar and the weekend started well for the Motorbase-run team with the #6 and #2 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3’s securing 2nd and 6th place positions respectively on the grid during Friday’s qualifying session. Unfortunately a drive through penalty and pit lane delays cost the team another trip to the podium.

Griffin and Al Harthy took the opening stints of the two hour contest. Regrettably the #6 Vantage was hit with an almost immediate drive through penalty when Griffin was deemed to have jumped the start of the race. Despite still having to carry the additional 65kg Silver Cup class weight on-board the #2 Vantage Al Harthy held off challenges during the opening period littered with safety cars and both cars pitted in top five positions as the driver changeover window opened.

With the entire GT3 grid pitting at the same time under the safety car, pit-lane congestion was a challenge and pit-lane complications furthered hampered the driver switch over, resulting in a delay for both Oman Racing Team cars. Butcher managed to re-join near the front of the pack, but unfortunately Lloyd was held up significantly, re-joining the action at the back.

Butcher produced a superb drive in the #6 Vantage with the Scotsman’s, setting fastest lap of the race to eventually take 4th place overall. Lloyd battled back hard from last place whilst also contending the weight penalty and the Aston Martin Evolution Academy driver managed to salvage a respectable 11th place spot, narrowly missing out on another points finish for the team. 

“It was Liam’s first time at Spa and both he and Rory a fantastic job to get the car on the front row. Unfortunately he just was a little too keen to get going and jumped the start, which resulted in the drive through penalty;” explained Motorbase Performance Team Principal David Bartrum. “Rory’s drive was fantastic, he did a really good job to fight his way back up to fourth, and they both worked really well this weekend and deserved that result.”

“The #6 Vantage struggled all weekend, the P6 qualifying result doesn’t really show the true story of how much of a challenge it is with the 65kg on-board;” added Bartrum. “The task for Dan and Ahmad this weekend was unbelievably tough; they had no chance really to be competitive in a two hour race on such a long track like Spa. The forces and the loads on the car are unacceptable and bordering on dangerous. The weight penalty on the Aston is unbelievably harsh for what we’re asking the car and the drivers to deliver.”

Despite a challenging weekend, David Bartrum’s team still has a clear lead in the Championship standings whilst Butcher and Griffin hold on their 2nd place position in the driver standings. Meanwhile Al Harthy and Lloyd maintain a healthy lead in the Silver Cup standings and also move up into 4th place in the overall standings.

“Once again Rory and Liam showed what a strong partnership they are and just how strong a contender Liam is becoming in the championship;” added Bartrum. “The weekend’s results weren’t great for Ahmad and Dan but I thank both of them for their efforts and for doing the best with what they had available to them. Carrying the weight this season has been so much harder than in previous years as the quality of the field has moved on so much.”

The Motorbase squad’s attention now turns to the Total 24 hours of Spa event at the end of July, where it faces its biggest challenge to date against the world’s leading GT teams on the Belgian circuit. The British GT Championship has a short break in the calendar before returning for the third 2 hour race of the season at Motorbase’s home track, Brands Hatch on August 1/2.

Channel 4 will feature race highlights from 7am on Saturday July 18th with Motors TV broadcasting its highlights show later that day from 6.25pm. A full TV schedule can be found on the official British GT Championship website here.

MotorsTV can be found on the following channels: Sky 447, Virgin 545 and Freeview 71 & 240.

Driver quotes:

Rory Butcher:
“It was a great personal breakthrough for me this weekend, managing to be consistent and quick throughout every single session and also the race was something that I’d been missing a little bit before Spa.

“I was really pleased with 4th place in the end. As soon as I left the pit-lane, I just got my head down, focussed on passing as many cars as I could and I got into a real groove and the car was mega. I felt gutted for Liam with the drive through, but he did a fantastic job to pull away from the leaders and then again making up the positions after the penalty, especially considering it was his first time at the circuit. We work together really well as a unit and I think that shows in the results.”

Daniel Lloyd:
“A tough weekend all round really. It was always going to be a challenge to come from the back but with the added weight on-board the car it was pretty much impossible.

“On the plus side, it was all good practice for the 24 hour race that’s coming up. I haven’t raced much around Spa before so it was great to get some extra track experience ahead of such a huge event.”

Source material - Motorbase Performance
Photo Credits - British GT / Peter May
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