High hopes end low for Oman Racing at Silverstone

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Home turf and a determination to better their performance from last time out in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup was supposed to be enough for Oman Racing by TF Sport to do well in the second round of their Silver Cup season at Silverstone at the weekend.

With eight other class entries competing against the #97 Aston Martin Racing V12 Vantage GT3 of Ahmad Al Harthy, Euan McKay and Charlie Eastwood, it was always going to be an intense battle for success, particularly against the extremely fast #54 Emil Frey Jaguar, and through Free Practice and Pre Qualifying things were looking good for the Surrey based team.

By the end of the three Qualifying sessions on Sunday morning, their combined and averaged qualifying time of 1:58:148 was enough for them to start third in class albeit 15 places the class pole setting Jaguar but the #90 Mercedes ahead of them in class was subsequently penalised and placed to the rear of the grid - a P2 start for the #97 car then!

Al Harthy was first in the car through the difficult opening stages of the race, having to circumvent navigate debris on track as the Silver Cup championship leading #90 Mercedes suffered a sudden and catastrophic tyre blow out landing them heavily into the wall at Copse in the opening minutes of the race. By the time a cautious Al Harthy had finished his hour long stint he had dropped back to P6 in class although McKay (next in the car) was soon able to recover to and hold onto to P4 in class in the opening few laps of his stint.

Such was his progress through the field that he was comfortably holding P3 in class at the end of his 30 laps and just over seven seconds behind his class leaders ahead but nearly 30 seconds ahead those behind him (in class).

Handing the #97 car to the 'faster' Charlie Eastwood, the race was looking good for (a) a decent high end finish or (b) that becoming a class podium position in its own right just under an hours time but motor racing can be cruel sometimes. Eastwood rejoined the challenge that McKay had instigated against the #78 Barwell Lamborghini for P2 in class  - a dice that could have gone to the end with little over 20 minutes of the race remaining but contact was made with another Lamborghini in another class causing steering damage to the #97 car that necessitated a return to pit lane.

The time lost in the garage effecting the replacement of a bent steering arm was enough of course to drop the Oman Racing team down the timing screen, and whilst they did get out on track before the end, there wasn't enough time to try and recover the situation. P5 was their finishing position.

“It’s disappointing as again we showed good pace,” stated TF Sport Director Tom Ferrier. “A podium was on the cards easy. Massive credit to the guys to fix and turnaround the car that fast as we still got a fifth place and good points. We cannot afford any slip ups now moving forward if we are serious about winning this championship.”

Next up on the calendar is the longer day into night 1000km's race from Paul Ricard in southern France which again pre cursors the big event at the 24Hour of Spa Francorchamps at the end of July.

Its going to be a steep hill for the team to climb but we certainly won't put anything past them!

Photo credits - BES

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