Mother Nature again plays her part at Snetterton but Oman Racing steals the show in British GT

Sunday, August 08, 2021


A typical Snetterton racing weekend greeted the British GT Championship grid this morning and their first double header sprint weekend of the year with ‘typical’ four seasons in one day weather at the Norfolk circuit.

With two full season and one guesting Aston Martin Racing Vantage at the event this weekend, it was the guesting Oman Racing with TF Sport AMR Vantage GT3 of Ahmad AL Harthy and Charlie Eastwood who had stolen the headlines with a returning pole position for the Omani driver for race 1 and were odds on favourites to win it considering they had no success penalties to serve from the last round at Spa Francorchamps but then, Mother Nature would have her say so on that.

In front of a decent looking crowd, a minute’s silence was paid in respect of Robert Foote, the track marshal taken from us in an accident at Brands Hatch the other week.

Track conditions were at least dry for the start to the days race programme for the British GT teams and from the off, the #97 Oman Racing car of Al Harthy never looked back. For Andrew Howard in the #7 Beechdean AMR GT3 however, he had a bit more of a race on his hands from his P6 starting slot, claiming early gains before handing them back again as the topflight GT3 cars jockeyed for position.

Having spun in Qualifying, Matt Topham wouldn’t have a good start to his race aboard his #27 Newbridge Motorsport AMR Vantage GT4 either as contact with the #42 Audi would see him hobbled and the Audi in the garage with broken suspension. He then suffered a scare just ahead of the pit window when a battling Lamborghini and Bentley nearly crashed into the back of his car going into the tight turn of Agostini.

With Al Harthy handing over to Eastwood, the Irishman would emerge from pit lane still in the lead and Jonny Adam had moved up to P4 thanks to two cars ahead serving out their success penalties. There was a time when it appeared that the pack were catching the #97 car but that was short lived as Eastwood again stretched out the gap to over seven seconds.

With Adam looking good for a P3 finish but with a determined #63 Barwell Lamborghini behind him, an unfortunate incident of Darren Turner battling his #27 for position with the #40 McLaren led to Adam taking the wrong route passed – he became boxed in and that allowed the #63 car passed to claim P3 overall on the final lap.

The result was emphatic with the #97 Oman car claiming a race win and Eastwood his first ever race win in British GT. The Beechdean car would finish P4 with the #27 Newbridge car a disappointing P4 in their GT4 Pro-Am class.

This afternoon’s second race was a whole different affair with torrential rain having returned during the proceeding race making the starting tyre selection a simply one for the Pro drivers who would this time be starting the race.

Thick spray lifted off the rear of the cars as they thundered into Riches for the first time which had Eastwood take a brave opportunist move to pass three cars into the hairpin. Various little skirmishes saw Turner take a spin on lap two to gain a puncture that would ultimately see them return at the rear of the pack, but with two other GT4 Pro-Am cars already out – automatically upon the podium if they could finish.

An eight-minute Safety Car period to retrieve a stranded car settled matters a little but just as Turner came out of the pits, he would be consumed by the GT3 front runners. Eastwood meanwhile was again being stalked by Sandy Mitchells Lamborghini who eventually made the move past for P3 before Dennis Lind did similar just ahead of the pit window. For Adam, there was little progress in P6.

With rain coming down again on what was then a drying line, the Am drivers had to learn from the off as Howard came out ahead of Al Harthy thanks to the #97 cars success penalty time. That led to an inter AMR battle between the #7 and the #97 cars before Al Harthy eventually got passed around the outside of Howard coming out of Coram and into Murrey’s with little over quarter of an hour remaining.

An identical move by Al Harthy on the #63 Lamborghini lifted them up to P4 just in time for the chequered flag with Howard coming home P6 again. The #27 car of Topham would come home P19 overall but importantly P2 in GT4 Pro-Am.

These results leaving Howard still very much in contention in both the GT3 Drivers and GT3 Pro-Am Championships, just 6.5points behind in each and with Topham and Turner still leading their GT4 Pro-Am Class as the Championship moves onto Oulton Park in four weeks’ time.

For TF Sport and Al Harthy, they of course have a date in France in two week’s time for both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Michelin Le Mans Cup.

Photo credits – Jacob Ebrey / Teams
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