Oman Racing Team denied podium in 24 hours of Spa

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Oman Racing Team was denied a podium finish in the world's toughest GT race when its Aston Martin Vantage GT3 was forced to retire with just three hours to run in the Total 24 hours of Spa (25/26 July).
The 67th running of the famous round-the-clock race at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium is an incredibly tough race and attracted a stellar entry of GT cars for round four of the Blancpain Endurance Series.
The Oman Racing Team faced a formidable entry of 59 of the world's leading endurance drivers and teams. Ahmad Al Harthy was sharing the driving with Jonny Adam, Daniel Lloyd and young Australian racer Jonathan Venter.
The race build-up and qualifying went very well and the Oman car showed its speed with strong laps in qualifying as they slotted into a top 10 position in the Pro-Am category.

Typical ever-changing weather conditions in the Ardennes Mountains made tyre choice difficult at the start of the race, but the Motorbase team made some good calls. However, another sudden change of weather threw the race into turmoil and the team had to bring the car back into the pits once more to change tyres. Then, a safety car period added further uncertainty and the Oman car dropped to 39th place.
Undeterred, the entire team battled hard through the night and managed to get the car right up to tenth overall and fourth in Pro-Am, with a real prospect of moving into a podium place.
Unfortunately, just as it seemed that a place on the Pro-Am podium was within their grasp, the car hit trouble as a section of the floor worked loose. That cost time in the pits but then an engine drive belt problem finally forced the Aston Martin out of the race after 444 laps and with just three hours left to run on Sunday afternoon. Although the belt could have been replaced, the engine was not fit to continue.
However, the Oman car had covered sufficient distance to be classified as a finisher in 30th place overall and tenth in Pro-Am.

Daniel Lloyd was driving when the car stopped on track and he worked hard to try and fix the problem using the tools carried in the car. The regulations permit the driver to work on the car, but team personnel cannot touch the car outside the pit area.
Team boss David Bartrum was impressed with Lloyd's effort to get the car back into the race. "Seeing Daniel working at the side of the track trying to fix the car set an example to all GT drivers. He never gave up trying to get the car to the finish," said Bartrum.
"I'm a very proud team boss to have seen the determination of the whole team, which worked so well for 22 hours. To not get a result after that was very disappointing. It was team and drivers at their best. This is a fantastic event and we've still got unfinished business with the Spa 24-hours."
Driver quotes:
Jonny Adam:
"The end result could have been so good. We called the right strategy at the start of the race but then the safety car caught us out and we lost half a lap at the end of the pit lane. It was a great effort from everyone to bounce back into the top 10 and P4 in class with the potential for the podium. It's a case of what could have been. Spa is a brutal race on the cars, drivers and teams. The car ran really well and a finish would have been a great result for the team."
Daniel Lloyd:
"The tyre calls should have paid off. But with some strong and consistent driving from all four drivers we worked our way back to tenth overall and fourth in Pro-Am. To survive those conditions and keep moving up was great. At one time I was aquaplaning in fifth gear and some of the works cars crashed out in the conditions. I was devastated with the end result. It was a really tough race and the Motorbase guys did a great job with the car. I learnt a lot during the race and there are some real positives to take away from this incredible event."
Ahmad Al Harthy:
"We're emotionally drained really. It's so tough for the race to end the way it did, everything was looking so strong and so good for us and we were very close to achieving our aim of just making the finish. We survived all of the rain, we survived the night, but then the drive belt problem happened and that was it. Even though we're all so disappointed, we can hold our heads up high and be very proud and satisfied with what we achieved. We had great team work, all of the guys drove well and we really did compete very strongly. It's a shame the way things ended but this is what we know can happen in motor racing."
Jonathan Venter:
It was a real privilege to have been able to drive the Oman Racing Aston Martin GT3. The team did a fantastic job all week and are a very professional team. We had strong pace throughout the entire race, running in the top 10 at many periods. The car was looking very promising to finish in a strong position and it is devastating to have gone through so much hard work and not finish. I learnt a lot through the whole week and took away some priceless experience. Hopefully in the future I can return to this great race and having another crack! Of course I would like to thank everyone involved in making this drive possible and for the tremendous effort they went through.
The Oman Racing Team will be back in action on home ground this weekend (1/2 August) in round six of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship, a two-hour race on the fabulous Grand Prix circuit at Brands Hatch.
Source material - Motorbase
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