Oman Racing grab surprise guesting pole position for race 1 at British GT's visit to Snetterton

Saturday, August 07, 2021

An eventful sequence of events at the British GT’s first day of official business at Snetterton today after the glorious sunshine of yesterday during their three private test sessions.

Starting the first of the day’s two Free Practice sessions under an overcast sky, the twenty-four-car entry including the two full season Aston Martin Racing cars from each of the Beechdean AMR and Newbridge Motorsport teams (as well as the guesting Oman Racing with TF Sport team) at least got some time to get some dry lap running in before the rains finally arrived at the Norfolk circuit.

Seemingly showing signs of now having cured their car’s niggling performance issue, the #7 AMR Vantage GT3 of Andrew Howard and a recovered Jonny Adam went the fastest of the trio of Aston’s during FP1, finishing P5 overall and just half a second down to the then pace setting #77 McLaren with the #97 Oman Racing car of Ahmad Al Harthy and Charlie Eastwood just behind in the Omani’s first drive of the year so far. The #27 Newbridge AMR Vantage GT4 of Matt Topham and Darren Turner arrived at the circuit a feisty as ever after their P2 overall podium last time out at Spa Francorchamps two weeks ago to finish FP1 fourth fastest overall and second fastest in their GT4 Pro-Am class.

With heavy showers being blown in again upon a stiff wind just in time for FP2, lap times were significantly slower and in the GT3 class, the #7 and the #97 finished the session having traded places with each other from the earlier session whilst the #27 had dropped down the timing screen to P4 in class.

With heavy showers never too far away all looked good for another exciting split Qualifying where each of the Am’s and each of the Pro’s set their own times for the starting grids for Races 1 and 2 tomorrow. That was the plan, but that was before a fire within the Ginetta support race paddock demanded the ongoing race at the time be red flagged as all circuit marshal’s, first responders and emergency services were sent to deal with that.

Fortunately without apparent injury but sadly with significant damage to team equipment, the British GT Qualifying finally got underway about an hour later than planned but would the weather hold?

Ultimately it did, leaving all four sessions to run on a dry track as first out were the GT3 Am drivers with Howard leaving the pit lane mid pack whilst Al Harthy left last and elected to give himself some room on track with a very slow out lap. As the first racing lap times came in, Howard went to the top only to be overtaken by Al Harthy for a provisional AMR 1-2. Going quicker again, AL Harthy gapped the pack by nearly 1.5 seconds as two other cars momentarily split the Astons before Howard went back to P2 only to be pinged for track limits. Al Harthy would finish top (-0.841 seconds) with Howard down to P5 (+1.5 seconds).

Next out were the GT3 Pro’s, and again the #7 Beechdean car went straight to the top on the first competitive lap only to progressively drop down as the other cars clocked in their available laps finishing P3 (+0.156 seconds). Eastwood appeared low down for him and only got as high as P5 during the ten-minute session before ultimately finishing P6 (+0.507seconds).

Finally, it was the turn of the GT4 runners and Topham out first in the #27 car. This time around with Qualifying not being streamed live, an obvious issue out on track saw Topham waste his first lap coming around 10 seconds slower than the quickest and was never able really to recover from that. His successive laps did see some improvement but only to a lowly P12 (+2.5 seconds off). 

Turner was last out and with his track limits penalty from Spa still ringing loudly in his ears, there was to be no mistakes this time around. Clocking in a banker lap worth of a P4 position, the AMR factory driver eventually posted a time suitable for a front row start in tomorrow’s second race, finishing behind the pole setting Ginetta by 0.420 seconds.

Their respective session finishing positions are the grid slots will start each of tomorrow’s one hour races, so that means the guesting #97 crew claim overall pole position in tomorrow’s first race – a great achievement considering how little Al Harthy has raced this year or last because of Covid and this was supposed to be a ‘little taster’ before the team moves onto Le Mans and their new entry into the two races at the Circuit de La Sarthe in the Michelin Le Mans Cup.

But as we know all too well – Qualifying is Qualifying but racing is something that is completely different!!

Photo credits – Jacob Ebrey

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes