Errors for the #69 cost them a chance of narrowing the gap at the head of the European Le Mans Series

Monday, August 29, 2022

 The midway point of the European Le Mans Series sadly didn’t go the way that the Oman Racing with TF Sport had intended in Barcelona at the weekend despite a strong showing ahead of the race.

Victorious at Imola but effectively balance of performance out of the race next time out at Monza, another revision to the series BoP table appeared to give back much of the power lost from the Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE platform after Imola, with an extra litre of fuel to boot.


Making the most of that situation, Ahmad Al Harty then placed his #69 car that he shares with Sam De Haan and Marco Sorenson at the head of the GTE field whilst the #95 of John Hartshorne, Jonny Adam and Henrique Chaves had to make do at the tail end of the pack.

The adage of Qualifying being one thing and the race always being another certainly came into play at the Circuit de Catalunya as (after the lap 1 Safety Car call for three cars off in the first sequence of corners), the #69 car of Al Harthy was soon passed by first one Porsche and then soon another to find himself down in third by the end of the first half hour of the four-hour race.


Despite an error from Al Harthy accounting for some of the time lost on track, the JMW Ferrari was then also soon hustling the #69 car for position before passing him just two corners before the 488 pushed its luck and spun the #93 Porsche in front of the Omani racer - but at least that lifted them back up to second in class by the end of the first hour.

Being the first of the two TF Sport prepared Aston Martins to pit, Al Harthy would be on for another double stint whilst Hartshorne stayed out for slightly longer before pitting before falling again to close to the rear of the pack.


Trouble was then just literally around the corner for the #69 as contact with the #57 Car Guy Ferrari had the car back on the apron with severe front-end damage. Damaging the bonnet, splitter, wing and undertray, it was a recoverable situation for the team but the repair time would lead to them going three laps down – effectively out of the race and especially so as the car was later awarded a Drive through Penalty for that contact earlier in the race.


For the #95 car, it was for them just a process of pounding in the laps with both Adam and Chaves to the finish and that elevated them to seventh by the chequered flag.

Whilst these results don’t look great for the Oman Racing crews (especially after a double class win for the #77 Proton Competition Porsche) their respective positions in the championship with the number of points remaining does mean that neither crew are not yet out of contention.


With the Series moving to Spa Francorchamps later in September before a season finale at Portimao, the #95 car now leads their stablemates in sixth on thirty-three points and the #69 crew in seventh on thirty points. With the leading #77 car only on sixty-nine points so with twenty-six points being available per round, anything is still possible and especially so if the Porsche is pulled back in its performance window ahead of the powerhouse Spa round!


Photo credit – Andrew Lofthouse

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